SEA Partners meet and plan for the final period of the project

Six partners of Southeast Asia Media Training Network (SEAMTN) gathered at Vientiane, the capital of Laos PDR for an Annual Partnership Meeting last week. The 2-day meeting from 17-18 June, aimed to share and review the partners’ collaborated activities with the SEAMTN project, and to set out a network strategic plan for the year ahead.

The project has focused on three pillars of support: network establishment, management capacity, and training capacity.

Partners’ Ongoing Activities

In Vietnam, Dinh Thi Thuy Hang, the director of Vietnamese Journalism Training Centre (VJTC), shared her organisation’s ongoing activities, such as Course Overhauling Process for twenty journalism curricula, and restructuring VJTC website with new resources for Vietnamese journalists across the country. Hang expressed her satisfaction with the Course Overhauling process, led by herself and interactive engagement of twenty well-experienced trainers from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. She witnessed that this engagement was the first kind of knowledge exchange session among the Vietnamese trainers, carried out only by local trainers.

Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) and Cambodia Centre for Independent Media (CCIM) have been receiving the trainers from their counterpart, to observe and learn about courses and resources, methods and schedules, practices/exercises and context, related to mobile journalism. Both MJI and CCIM have been working with citizen journalism on thematic courses in their respective countries. These observation exchanges will keep the antenna of their training team updated beyond their country.

Gender Integration

In 2017, Fojo Media Institute conducted a research on “Gender-in-Media Landscape Study (Vietnam)”, in which 247 respondents participated in both online and focused group discussions. The research found 27% of Vietnamese women journalists experienced sexual harassment by their sources, workplace colleagues and superiors. In 2018, Fojo also organized Gender Course Designing and Gender Auditing workshops in Bangkok for all the project partners.

With Fojo’s support, OAPAC coincided above knowledge with the ongoing global #MeToo movement, and decided to organize series of gender activities. Part of the series, is introducing Vietnamese journalists with guided knowledge and tool-kits on preventing and handling workplace sexual harassment. In May 2018, WAN-IFRA published “Sexual Harassment in the Media: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees”, which OAPAC selected as main resource to translate, print, distribute among journalists, and conduct two trainings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Targeted participants are journalists and managers from media houses.

New Lens for Journalism

As part of project’s inspiration session, SEAMTN invited Alan Soon, a media expert and the co-founder of Splice Newsroom from Singapore to share his insight on “Mega-Trends in Media and the Impact on Journalism Education”. Alan shared a thought provoking discussion to review and redefine the defitions on ‘media’ and ‘journalism’ in the digital era, and to find solution-based information for specific groups of community with different interests. He emphasized not to be mistaken the internet population as a ‘mass one’.

Alan Soon, the co-founder of Splice Newsroom, at his lecture.

Lae Keoluangta, a newly joined media training officer from Institute of Mass Media, Culture and Tourism (IMCT), echoed Alan’s optimism. Lae said, “Technology is not only a mega-trend in societies, but it is also a key element in media and journalism. A lot of people heavily rely on digital devices for transfer, consume and exchange information and news. Technology allows people to access news ubiquitously and quickly as the news is just on their fingertips. As a result, people are well informed and connected. That is a positive side of technology.”

Currently, IMCT is in their process of developing new curriculum on Online Journalism integration with smartphone-reporting.

Resource to Debunk Fake News

Meanwhile, the whole SEAMTN network partners shared a common concern that rapid changing media landscape in digital era has its disadvantage especially on equipping with news literacy—differentiating fake news, disinformation, misinformation, and fact checking. Regarding the disinformation and fake news, Fojo Media Institute, has taken a leading role to translate, print and distribute the UNESCO publication—“Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training”.

In March 2019, Fojo Media Institute joined Vietnam Internet Forum (VIF19) in Hanoi. During VIF19, Fojo disseminated the UNESCO’s report in Vietnamese language. This was the first local language being translated for such report since its original report was launched in November 2018. Fojo initiated and took charge from translation, typesetting to printing 500 copies. After Vietnam, translation of Khmer language is on its way, and targeting its launch in early September in collaboration with UNESCO-Cambodia. Fojo has been in close collaboration with UNESCO headquarter, and other UNESCO colleagues in Bangkok, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Katarina Zwinkels, Fojo’s Head of International Development Team, meeting with her partners from Laos.

The SEAMTN project, led by Fojo Media Institute, is fully funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and it will be concluded in September 2020. The project has performed as a cooperative component for its partners’ organisational management and training activities, and their contributions to respective communities. The project-partners are from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.