Monday, September 29, 2008

Some more pictures

Julius Mtemahanji, head of Tumaini University journalism department, working on his new blog at the internet workshop on Satuday. Thanks to Eero once again for the photos.

Fresh journalism graduate Elie Harindavyi has been at previous internet workshops for students every year since he started at Tumaini. Now also together with the trainers.

Hard assignment plus bone soup

The workshop finished on Saturday, and I’m posting this from Dar es Salaam. Mvua nyingi sana mjini hapa.

It was a hard week, I guess both for the participants and the trainer, with quite some uncertainties in the beginning whether we get going with the full group of trainers at all. However, things started to run when on spot, as so many times before at Tumaini, Iringa. For organizing any workshops or projects over there, there’s still need for improvement in the communication and arrangements.

The group was small but intense, with three of the journalism department teachers and one graduate from this year attending the workshop most of the time. We also had another teacher from the education department joining in for one day, as well as three Finnish students giving the workshop some extra strength for the last two days. Julius Mtemahanji, the new head of the journalism department, also recovered from an illness to be with us for the last day of the workshop.

Shortly about the last day, that is Sat 27 Sept. We started a bit late which was just okay, allowing me to work on some links to this site. Then the participants did a posting reflecting the previous day’s issues, also adding at least one link.

Next topic was email correspondence and email communication skills, with some concrete examples: first a thread of email correspondence with a business colleague and then an example of a local journalist corresponding with a newspaper editor about providing a story.

Finally, after lunch, the participants were asked to write a short posting on a given topic, a bit more complicated search than just checking names of capitals or presidents of different countries. This was clearly more difficult than expected. Searching for simple details is one thing, but searching for backgrounds, facts and views from several sources and producing a short journalistic story based on that research should be practiced much more. There’s no regular teaching of this in any journalism school in Tanzania – but the need for practicing is definitely there. Also for the trainers.

At the end of the workshop, we learned how to post images. See Simon last year in the mountains of Lesotho at Berege Info.

In the evening we got together again to have a discussion about future over some bone soup and mbuzi na chipsi.

Send better emails

At least before, an important thing students were taught was how to right official or business letters. Now, a big part of that kind of correspondence goes via email, but no-one seems provide any teaching in sending emails.

Here’s a bit of email etiquette, given to the journalism trainers’ workshop on Saturday.

Think before you write, not when you write.

Keep it short.

Remember to break your message into short paragraphs. Handle one topic in each paragraph.

Put a blank line between paragraphs. This makes it easier to read.

Write proper sentences. Use correct language. Start every sentence with a capital letter. Use full stops and commas when needed.

Don’t SHOUT! (meaning writing everything in capital letters)

Choose appropriate subject line. You might also change the subject line when replying. ”HEY READ THIS E-MAIL!!!!” is not a good subject line. Neither is ”HELLO!”

Use Reply All if appropriate, or add others to the CC: field. But don’t use Reply All, if you are just replying to the sender.

Think twice before sending attachments, especially big ones.

Don’t flag all your email as important.

After finishing writing, before pressing the send-button, read your mail once again to double-check that you have explained your point clearly and others understand your message correctly. Is there any room for misunderstanding? Did I miss explaining certain issues that others do not necessarily know?

Important! Do let people know that their message has been received. Sometimes emails get lost because of overeager spam filtering, or people move to other jobs and change their email contacts. If it’s not obvious to the sender that you have received the message, do send a quick note back, maybe just an informal ”thank you”, to acknowledge receipt even if no reply is otherwise necessary. Even if you do plan to reply later, an email acknowledging receipt and letting the sender know when you will get back to them can be welcome.

This was partly based on a list of email rules provided by my friend, Dr. Matti Kinnunen and also another web page with the name Top 10 Most Important Rules of Email Netiquette. Thanks to Matti and Heinz.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Finding information

Tumaini University journalism teacher Aloyce Mohamed focusing on an internet search assignment in our workshop yesterday. Photo taken by Eero Mäntymaa.

Reflections by the trainers themselves

If you like to read commentaries on what we’ve been doing, please visit the blogs of workshop participants.

Simon Berege, pictured on the right, is reflecting on the discussions we had yesterday on the differences between the numbers of internet users in Kenya and Tanzania. The style is casual and entertaining. Thanks to Eero Mäntymaa for providing the photo.

Aloyce Mohamed has written a very good report on yesterday’s session,
listing a big part of issues we’ve done with nice comments on the value of the workshop for the future journalism training here at Tumaini.

Elie Harindavyi is suggesting that similar workshops as this might be organized also in his homeland Burundi.

Nkirote Mwongera is also giving good advice to the trainer how to package the contents for upcoming workshops.

We also have now three Finnish students joining our class, Eero and Juho, journalism students from the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (DIAK) in Turku, and Sunna, a geography student from the University of Joensuu. They have been a great asset, sharing views and coming with good questions and comments.

So many links to African literature

Back in class and reflecting on the past sessions. Sorry there was no time for postings yesterday as we were over-speeding through the PowerPoint material meant for three full days in just a few hours.

Here’s some notes. You might read more from the participants’ blogs. Links on the right.

We edited a bit the Wikipedia page on Iringa and visited a number of other websites from eBay to the Drudge Report. The idea was to show sites that have changed the ways how people live their lives, how they communicate or how they relate to the media. The Drudge Report is a website by one young American guy in Los Angeles who was the first one to come out with the story on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

I showed some statistics and graphics on the numbers of internet users in different world regions and African countries in particular. Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria are growing very fast, doubling or tripling the number of users in just one year. There was a good discussion to try to explain why internet usage in Tanzania isn’t yet growing so fast as in neighbouring Kenya. Nkirote Mwongera, who is Kenyan herself, came up with some good points. I wish she would elaborate more on that also in her blog.

Later in the day, we visited practically all Tanzanian media websites, from to weekly paper Raia Mwema. The developments have been fast. Two years ago when we started this training project here in Iringa, there were only three media companies in Tanzania which had a website, and of those only was updating its content regularly.

With the current network, there was not enough time to go deeper into good international websites and portals touching on Africa. We took a look at a website called African Elections Database with all election results from Africa since the colonial times until today. We also visited the Stanford University website on African literature and writers with hundreds of links to websites from Chinua Achebe to the Zimbabwe Book Fair.

The more deep-going issues on the changes and challenges of the media industry in the age of internet had to be left for another time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Internet banking is already here

Now the workshop participants have opened their own blogs. Links to them can be found on the right. The first postings were just to let them introduce themselves and say some words about the workshop and internet.

But today the topic is free: anything we have been doing, some good, some bad, any expectations, comments to daily news, or of course the not-so-unexpected troubles with the network – especially during the afternoon rush hours when everyone is trying to reach cyberspace at the same time.

Earlier during the day, we visited a number of websites in order to show the kind of internet culture people are living in in some other countries: booking train tickets and flight tickets, trying to buy the ticket to the World Cup qualification match Finland vs. Azerbaijan (maybe sold out), checking the phone number of a Tanzanian professor living in Finland (and watching an aerial picture of his house, a service provided by the phone directory service Eniro), and last but surely not least, reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as ebooks on the site of Project Gutenberg.

Internet banking is already in Tanzania, and probably you can book online your tickets to the cinemas in Nairobi. Google has just updated its map on Dar es Salaam, with all street names there. Nairobi was updated just some months ago.

The point of all this is to show how internet has changed some of the ways how people get their services, search for any issues, both material and non-material. And in the coming days the task will be to see how this affects the environment where any media is operating.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Starting internet workshop for trainers

We are now here at Tumaini University – Iringa University College, finally starting the first internet workshop for journalism trainers. This is part of a three-year development cooperation program on internet and journalism between the journalism department at Iringa and the VIKES Foundation, an international organ of the Union of Journalists in Finland and other journalist associations. The project is supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

It’s now already the third and last year of our cooperation. So far, workshops and courses being part of the official curriculum have been organized for journalism students from four different classes, but this is really the first workshop focusing on training the trainers in the use of internet in everyday modern journalism.

My name is Peik Johansson and I’m the trainer of the workshop. Otherwise, I’m a journalist working for the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE Radio 1 but now also quite much involved in journalism training in Tanzania.