Monday, March 10, 2014

More pictures from class

Here are some more pictures from the training. Asia Khalfan is the managing
editor of the radio station Sauti ya Quran (Voice of Quran).

Athumani Shariff works as a journalism lecturer at Dar es Salaam School
of Journalism.

Mcharo Mrutu is a senior reporter at Channel Ten, one of the national TV
channels in Tanzania.

Nurdin Selemani is deputy chief editor of Radio France International
Kiswahili service.

Zuhura Selemani is a journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam
School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Photos Peik Johansson.

Final feedbacks from the last training day

On Friday, the final day of the training, the participants first searched for facts and figures and backgrounds about the economic relations between China and African countries and then proceeded to write a short story based on their findings. Afterwards, we also visited a long list of news websites and other web resources related to African and international affairs, among them also some very nice blogs run by young Kenyan women commenting on anything from politics to their human relationships and writing in such a nice fashion...

At the end of the day, the training participants posted their final feedbacks from the training week. Everyone seemed to be pretty happy that their expectations were met.

Asia Khalfan of the radio station Sauti ya Quran says that before the training she always had difficulties in finding from the internet what she was searching for, but now she can easily find what she needs. She is already looking forward to sharing her new skills with her staff at her radio station.

Hamisi Kibari from Habari Leo says that he is now thinking of writing more researched feature stories because searching for material is no longer a torture! He also says that he will use the knowledge and skills acquired from the training to help his colleagues in the newsroom, starting from next Monday.

I have been using internet in several ways, but not accessing information easily. With this useful training, I received a package for a lifetime, writes Zuhura Selemani, journalism lecturer at University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also suggests that she would advice the head of her school to appoint her to train her colleagues to work with internet sources.

In the opinion of Athumani Shariff, Dar es Salaam School of Journalism, the best thing with the training was that it very practical. I would like to say it was the right class in the very right time, he concludes.

For a complete summary of almost everything we did during the week, see the story by Jane Mathias of Nipashe newspaper.

All other feedbacks can be found in the blogs, links are on the right.

For some interesting stories on the business relations between China and Africa, I would like to recommend the articles by Zuhura Selemani and Athumani Shariff. For Swahili readers, see also the story by Hamisi Kibari.

Otherwise, thanks to the whole class for the active debates and good participation. Many thanks to Cecilia Mngongo of MISA-Tanzania for handling again all practical arrangements so well. Thanks to the catering at TaGLA for the delicious meals and snacks, and a great thank also to the IT support which had a hard week this time due to the network challenges which were beyond our control.

Think first and other tips for fact-finding

Here’s some useful tips when searching for information from the web.
Think first, before going to the web.

What do you search for and where might you find it? Are you searching for simple facts, backgrounds or any other information that can develop your story? Should you google, or can you find the information on a specific website you already know? Do you find it from the internet, or better somewhere else?

Always monitor other news sites, both local and international, and also other web resources.

Choose right search words.

Try different Google search options – sometimes web, sometimes news, sometimes “all web”, sometimes only Tanzanian pages, or only Swahili language pages. You can also narrow your search by date, for last year, last month, last week or the last 24 hours only.

Open pages in a new tab. While the new pages are opening, you can continue reading the original page.

Add to favourites. Also open new files for your favourites. Then you will easier find the stories when you want to come back to them.

Follow the links in the stories you read.

Go to original sources.

Don’t always read everything, but scan for what is of your interest.

Don’t ever copy-paste! That’s plagiarism.

Print if necessary. Read as homework, underline.

Also make notes to your notebook and save drafts to a USB flash.

Here’s some more tips before you start writing the story.
Structure your story in your mind and on paper.

Decide what is relevant for your narrative.

Write simple with own words.

Quote when necessary.

Understand what you write (you are there to make things understandable for your audience).

Add details for human interest.
When you’re about to publish:
Provide links to original sources (if you publish online).

Always also think about headline, visual outlook, quotes, images, graphics etc.

Some general good advice for producing good investigative stories:

Spend much more time on the investigation than on the actual writing.

Plan your story into narrative chunks.

Also plan how you use your time
for research
for writing
for editing your text
for checking facts
and for delivering the final story.

How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism and the need for ethical reporting and true professionalism have been continuously on the agenda during the training days.

The website lists the following examples as plagiarism:
Turning in someone else’s work as your own

Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit

Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks

Changing words but copying the sentence structure without giving credit

Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not
For most journalists, editors and lecturers in class, the previous examples sound too familiar.

Then how can you avoid plagiarizing? In most cases by citing sources. By simply explaining that a part of the material has been borrowed, and providing your audience the information necessary to find the original source. That’s usually enough to prevent plagiarism.

Plagiarism has never been as easy as it is today. Before the internet, potential plagiarists would have had to go to the library and copy texts from books by hand. But the internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in a few minutes one could find, copy and paste together an entire seminar paper, or a feature story.

But there’s no point in copy-pasting. You just make a much better story by writing in your own style and words. An editor or a teacher should also easily recognize passages that are directly copied, from the vocabulary used.

Journalists in any country caught plagiarizing can get sacked. If you are copying someone else’s story for an article published in your own name, you might also get sued for copyright infringement and be forced to pay heavy compensation. The same goes for publishing a photo without the permission of the copyright owner. In most of the world, the length of the copyright is usually 50 or 70 years after the death of the author. In Tanzania, 50 years.

The recommendation was that all participants would take their time and read the Tanzanian Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act from 1999, found here as a PDF file on a UNESCO web portal where they have collected the copyright laws from most countries.

Here’s another link to a good BBC story about plagiarism, how easy it is, and how easily it can be detected.

A very late update on Thursday session

Heres a late update about what we did on Thursday, when the network in the whole country was so bad, that I wasn't even able to reach the internet in the evening. The reason was that there had been a breakdown of the Seacom underwater cable somewhere in the Red Sea and all internet traffic in East Africa was affected.

During the day, we however managed to do quite a number of fact-finding exercises, again starting from simple ones and moving on to more complicated, such as the number of medals won by African athletes in the London Olympics of 2012 and to find out what were the main points of the Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo in her already famous book Dead Aid.

Heres a summary by Zuhura Selemani about Day 4, and heres another posting by Nurdin Selemani. They both say that they were impressed by the exercises which helped them improve the way they search for facts and backgrounds from the web.

Others explained how they learnt how to narrow the search by choosing the right search words and how to use some more advanced search options, such as narrowing the search by dates or language. Heres the posting by Asia Khalfan, and heres another commentary by Scholastica Mazula.

For the stories written about Dambisa Moyo, here are the links to the texts by Nurdin Selemani, Zuhura Selemani and Scholastica Mazula. For all other stories, see the links to participants blogs on the right.

Friday, February 15, 2013

How to add an image

I showed today how to add images to the blog. Simple and easy, but
usually you are not allowed to copy any pictures without the copyright.
So this picture is here now just for educational purposes. It shows
Liberian children holding Chinese flags during a state visit to Liberia
by China’s president Hu Jintao. Photo by Christopher Herwig of Reuters.

African and international web resources

Here’s a list of some local and international websites we will visit today, useful sites not only for journalists but for anyone with the desire to find information. For Tanzanian online media, I will add some links separately to the column on the right side of the page. But here are now the other links.

Tanzania government You can find here some statistical data of the country, national budget and so on, but unfortunately the information is not updated very regularly. For reaching the different ministries, better to go directly to the section National information by topics with the giraffe image surrounded by links.

Bunge, meaning the parliament, has a good site with CV’s of all MP’s and other info. But the same here as with the government website - not updated regularly enough.

Jamii Forums This is the Tanzanian discussion site, with the slogan: “Where we dare to talk openly.” Here people use to leak out scandalous documents of corruption etc. that wouldn’t be published in the mainstream media. The eighth most visited website in Tanzania, more popular than BBC.

Reuters Africa Latest news country by country updated constantly when news happen. If things at home are relatively cool, meaning no huge floods or wars or rigged elections, the site might include only week-old business news.

IPS News “Tells the story underneath!” Well written news features from the South produced by journalists from the South. You can find the Kiswahili service here.

Other international Kiswahili language news sites include BBC Swahili, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and the latest Radio France International, all of them providing audio clips as well. Content from more than 125 African news organizations. Here you can read papers from Cameroon to Kenya. Of the Tanzanian media houses, The Citizen and Daily News have joined this news portal recently.

Al Jazeera This satellite channel from Doha, Qatar, is today providing probably the best Africa and Middle East reporting of all the big international news channels. The website is beautiful with sharp pictures and often clever stories and commentaries.

Africa The Good News A website from South Africa trying to counter the Western media stereotypes of AIDS, poverty, tribal feuds and corruption. Right now news about farmers’ success stories in Zimbabwe and stories about African football stars and investment opportunities in Congo and Nigeria. This is a Somali news site with more than a hundred links to other Somali news and other websites. Online journalism can be a great media in a country with long distances and lack of paper, as long as wireless connections are there.

Pambazuka News Pan-African forum for social justice. Human rights activists and the best intellectuals on the continent are publishing enlightening stories on politics, development and people’s struggles.

African Elections Database Compiled by a chap somewhere out of Africa with numbers of votes, percentages and all other details from every election since colonial times.

African Journals Online On this website updated in South Africa you can browse and read close to 400 different African scientific journals, from the social science journal Africa Development to Zimbabwe Veterinary Journal.

African Literature and Writers on the Internet A web portal hosted by Stanford University in California with hundreds of links to websites on African literature, from sites about Chinua Achebe to Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina.

African Studies Internet Resources Web portal by Columbia University, New York. So many links that you can choose by region, country or topic.

Hello in many languages. This is one of my personal favourites. If you can greet in the Kihaya and Hehe languages and also say “thank you”, you might reach far. Here you can also learn to say “hallo” in about 20 different German dialects.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some photos from class

In the middle of the class today, some men appeared outside the classroom
window. Working by their computers Nurdin Selemani of Radio France
International and Zuhura Selemani from the University of Dar es Salaam
School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Scholastica Mazula of Radio Times FM showing directions to Asia Khalfan of
Sauti ya Quran and Athumani Shariff from Dar es Salaam School of Journalism.

Journalism lecturers at work. In the front George Baltazary and behind
Jackson Joseph, both from Time School of Journalism. Photos Peik Johansson.

Searching for the Swedish president

On Tuesday, the participants got as homework to read and analyze and reflect on a speech by Rupert Murdoch given to American newspaper editors in 2005. Murdoch’s prophetic speech more than seven years back was about the increased use of the internet, especially among the younger generation in the USA, and the consequences this would have on the newspaper industry over there and later also elsewhere.

As many readers surely know, Rupert Murdoch is a famous media mogul, the chief executive of News Corporation, and one of the biggest individual media owners in the world, owner of not only dozens of print newspapers in the USA, UK and Australia, but also owner of Fox Channel, Sky TV and many, many other big TV channels around the world.

For quite fluent summaries about the speech and views of Rupert Murdoch, see for example the postings of Hamisi Kibari of Habari Leo, Mcharo Mrutu from Channel Ten, Nurdin Selemani of RFI Kiswahili, or Zuhura Selemani, University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Yesterday morning after posting the Murdoch stories, we worked a bit on the blogs, arranged the blog settings, learnt how to make links to other web pages, and all participants also added a link list with links to the blogs of their other colleagues attending the training.

The rest of the day, we spent searching for information from the web, starting with simple fact-finding, such as populations of Tanzanian towns or other countries, contact information of local institutions and embassies, and names of presidents in other countries. More funny or tricky assignments were to find the phone number of Barack Obama (the idea was to simply go to the website of the White House), the name of the president of Sweden (they have no president but a king, and the prime minister is the real political leader), and who were the goal scorers of Celtic in their UEFA Champions League match against Juventus on Tuesday night (no-one from Celtic scored any goal as they lost the match 0-3).

Some other assignments, like the current inflation rate in Tanzania (12.1 percent last December) and what exactly president Jakaya Kikwete said earlier in the week about the religious violence in Geita region, were a bit more challenging. The difficulty was to narrow the search by using alternative Google options, such as Google news, or to search results only from Tanzanian or Kiswahili language websites, or from websites from last month or last week only.

Asia Khalfan, managing editor of the radio channel Sauti ya Quran (Voice of the Koran), says in her blog that she liked the fact-finding assignments, because before this session such Google search were difficult for her. Athumani Shariff, lecturer at Dar es Salaam School of Journalism, enjoyed especially how to make links to the blog texts, something he says that most Tanzanian bloggers dont seem to know how to do. Here’s another short summary from yesterday’s training by Mcharo Mrutu, and here’s a more detailed explanation of some of the search assignments by Nurdin Selemani.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Internet use in Tanzania is growing fast

Yesterday morning the participants opened their blogs, which I believe most regarded as a very interesting exercise. We moved on to some statistics about the use of the internet globally and in different world regions and countries. Maybe surprisingly, almost half of all internet users in the world are nowadays in Asia (more than one billion people), much more than the combined number of internet users in Europe and North America. Counting the share of the population that is using the internet, North America is however the top region in the world with four out of five people being connected to the web.

Africa is still at the bottom end in both charts, but for the last five years the continent has also experienced the biggest growth in the number of the internet users. There are now 167 million internet users in Africa, which is about one seventh of the total population of the continent. Currently the biggest growth can be seen in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and also Tanzania, where the number of internet users has multiplied in the last three years, mainly due to a fast increasing number of people using the internet via their mobile phones. In Tanzania, there are today 5.6 million internet users, the seventh biggest number in Africa after Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa and the Sudan.

What are the people then using the internet for? From the charts updated on the web trafficking site Alexa, we noticed that globally the most popular websites are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Wikipedia. The media doesn’t perform very well in the statistics. BBC was the 53rd website on the list, CNN was in the position 88, and the American online news media Huffington Post was 95th. So the conclusion was that at least globally people use the internet mainly for other kinds of fact-finding or communication, instead of reading news.

In Tanzania, however, media websites are suddenly getting more and more popular among the internet audience. There were totally 16 media websites among the Top 100 list, mostly local media, including two popular blogs. Most popular media websites were BBC (read both in English and Kiswahili), Mwananchi (the biggest daily newspaper), Michuzi blog (online media which started originally as the blog of photojournalist Issa Michuzi), Global Publishers (a collection of tabloid newspapers), IPP Media (the biggest private media house including a TV station, a national radio station and newspapers in both Kiswahili and English) and Millard Ayo (entertainment blog by Clouds FM radio DJ who actually launched his first blog during our first internet training in Dar es Salaam 2008).

Another interesting thing we found out from the Alexa list was that the most popular website in Tanzania is not the Google, as elsewhere in the world, but Facebook. “Tanzanians like gossiping instead of searching for information”, was a common explanation by the participants. The popularity of Facebook could also explain why so many media websites have recently managed to increase their popularity. One reason could be that in Facebook people often share links to interesting news they read in the media. Another explanation is that now Tanzanians, often using their mobile phones to reach the internet, have finally learnt to visit local news media online and free of costs, instead of paying hundreds of shillings for buying a print copy.

For reviews and summaries of statistics and other things we did on Day 2, see the postings of Hamisi Kibari of Habari Leo or Nurdin Selemani from RFI Kiswahili. Mcharo Mrutu from Channel Ten goes on to explain some of the business concerns facing the traditional media, when especially a young and urban audience is searching for news online. Zuhura Selemani from the University of Dar es Salaam has written a short essay on other challenges during the age of the internet, from digital divides to plagiarism and how the constant use of internet is affecting the human brains.

Bookmarking and other practical skills to share

The participants have opened their blogs and made their first postings, introducing themselves, listing some of their expectations from the training and writing summaries of what we did on the first day of the training and what they liked or disliked.

Nurdin Selemani, deputy chief editor of Radio France International Kiswahili service, wishes that the training will help him and others a lot, because in Tanzania many journalists don’t know how to use the internet effectively to communicate quickly with the rest of the world.

Zuruha Selemani, journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, says that her main expectation from the training is to acquire skills, knowledge and experiences that she can share with her students and colleagues at the school of journalism.

Athumani Shariff, lecturer at Dar es Salaam School of Journalism, expects to receive new knowledge of the internet in order to be able to train his students in new media technology. At the end of the day, he says, “this will help the society to get the right information”.

George Baltazary from Time School of Journalism says that he has about 500 students to teach. What he liked most during yesterday’s training was to learn how to bookmark web pages (or add them to favourites, if you’re using Internet Explorer) to easily find them afterwards. Also clearing the page history was something new to him and most others.

Maurice Manda from the Royal College of Tanzania says that he liked that the assignments were very practical.

For compact summaries of what we did yesterday, see the postings of Hamisi Kibari, subeditor of the Habari Leo newspaper, and Jane Mathias, subeditor of Nipashe newspaper.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tweeting through the first training day

This is my first posting from a five days training course for Tanzanian editors and journalism lecturers in the use of internet, tovuti in Kiswahili, for fact-finding, news monitoring, communication and publication.

It is already the twenty-first internet training event for Tanzanian journalists, part of a training programme launched in 2008 and organized jointly by MISA Tanzania and VIKES Foundation, a solidarity organization of journalist associations in Finland, with support from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

We are just starting the second day of the training in a cool air-conditioned multimedia room of the Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA), located at the Institute of Finance Management, the leading business school in the country.

We now have eleven participants in class. This time six of them are editors or senior producers, including subeditors from two major national newspapers, editors from three radio stations, and a senior producer from the national TV station Channel Ten. The other five are journalism lecturers from the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication and three other local journalism colleges.

We started the day with an introduction round and each participant listing their expectations for the training week. Most of them wished that they would acquire more knowledge and experience in the use of internet in order to make better stories and programmes at their media houses and to be able to improve the teaching at their journalism schools. George Baltazary from Time School of Journalism said he wished to learn how the use of internet can lead to social development.

After the introduction and a tea break, we did some exercises on how to book a train ticket in Finland and how to buy a flight ticket in Tanzania. In addition to the local Precision Air, a new low-cost airline called Fastjet has just recently joined the Tanzanian market with online booking and a possibility to pay the ticket with a money transfer from a mobile phone. We went on with another assignment to find out who is the owner of the newly launched company. Answer was the British investment company Lonhro, previously well-known for its cordial relations with Africa’s worst dictators.

We also visited a number of websites that have in one way or another changed the world in the quite recent era of internet.

We have seen what Americans buy from eBay and watched some video clips on YouTube: the Nigerian football player Sunday Mba scoring the winning goal in the African Cup of Nations final on Sunday evening, and the South Korean music video Gangnam Style which has attracted the incredible 1.3 billion views so far. I showed how to edit a Wikipedia article and also shared ideas about the importance of online games. Closer to the end of the day, we visited the Twitter site of the Nurdin Selemani, one of our participants. He is the deputy chief editor of Radio France International Kiswahili and was tweeting throughout the whole day yesterday – about the Pope’s resignation, about the upcoming UEFA Champions League matches and the first TV debate of presidential aspirants in neighbouring Kenya. At the same time, he was actively taking part in the discussions in class.

Now the participants are opening their own blogs and posting a first introduction of themselves. I will provide links later.