“By bringing us together, we have been equipped with new skills to render quality and timely services to our people,” said Peter Kenyi, a participant and presenter at Spirit FM, a local radio station in Yei.
“Let us make use of what we have learnt here for the betterment of our government, our society and ourselves,” he urged his peers who also attended the workshop on better journalistic practices organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Working against all odds of fear and other complicating factors, Mr. Kenyi insists that journalists still love their job and are ready and willing to deliver.
“We desire to have a friendly environment that gives us hope. Let us all join hands through our writings to bring peace so that we can have the opportunity to prosper as one people.”
Azaria Duku Enoka, Yei River area’s Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, stressed that journalists have an obligation to report accurately and objectively to meet the needs of the public for authentic news.
“Write in such a way as not to frustrate, anger or divide the people, for you are reporting at a time when we have different versions of issues due to the conflict. You need to report with balance and attribution,” Mr. Enoka clarified, adding that the fate of the country, at least partly, depends on whether its journalism is good or bad.
Benson Agele Amos, chairman of the Yei branch of the Union of Journalists in South Sudan said that, although journalists’ critical role is to tell the news as it unfolds, they also have the obligation to go one step further, by exposing what might be going on behind the scenes.
“The media can reduce suspicions and rumours by digging into hot issues and revealing them so that there are no secrets,” Mr. Benson said, and emphasised the role of media outlets as pressure valves where frustrations can be vented:
“Conflicting parties can express their views, grievances and anger there,” he said, thus avoiding the danger of bitterness being manifested in more sinister and life-threatening ways.
James Mugo Muriithi, a representative of the UN peacekeeping body, pleaded to the assembled media practitioners to base their reporting on facts and figures rather than on views, speculations and gossip.
The forum brought together about 40 local radio presenters, press secretaries and freelancers and was organised with the support of the local Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Union of Journalists in South Sudan.