REPORT: Journalism Capacity Building Workshop in Malawi, 22 September 2021

Ten journalists from different parts of Malawi were selected to participate in the Journalism Workshop on Capacity Building for Development of Media, held on 22 September 2021 in Mzuzu, Malawi and hosted by the the Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi (CIJM) in partnership with the Africa-China Reporting Project (ACRP).

Of the ten journalists, five have been awarded reporting grants by the ACRP for investigations subsequent to the workshop. Facilitators included lecturers from CIJM, Mzuzu University (Dr Precious Madula and Mrs Elida Kamanga), and Godfrey Nyirenda from the Malawi Judiciary and member of CIJM.

The training programme consisted of six sessions:

Session 1 – Training objectives and context

This session gave some information on the ACRP based in South Africa and its aims, i.e. to improve the quality of reporting on Africa-China issues by providing facilitation and capacity building for journalists via reporting grants, workshops and other opportunities. The ACRP facilitates journalists to investigate complex dynamics and uncover untold stories, with an emphasis on on-the-ground impact and perspectives to illustrate how the lives of the people of Africa are changing amid the comprehensive phenomenon of Africa-China interactions. On the current project where ACRP is working with CIJM it was stressed that journalists must undertake Africa-China journalism by emphasizing on-the-ground impact and perspectives to illustrate how Africa-China relations, activities and role players are impacting the lives and futures of African people, communities and countries, and how African people and communities are shaping their own futures or being hindered or assisted in doing so among other issues.

Session 2 – Opening

Board Chairperson for CIJM, Dan Msowoya, opened the workshop, and said it was time for journalists to begin to look at issues pragmatically and more specifically.

“There are certain issues that are hidden. This deliberate idea of looking at Africa-China relationships is particularly significant because Africa seems to have turned its attention more to China than anywhere else and therefore that should trigger curiosity among the media to find out why such is the case,” Msowoya said.

Session 3 – Malawi-China relations: Challenges and opportunities by Dr Precious Madula (Mzuzu University)

Ever since China became Africa’s largest trading partner, the phenomenon was explored of the nature of some of the agreements which countries in Africa enter into with China. Discussions on Chinese loans, loan agreements, aid in Africa, its win-win rhetoric, and the principles of mutual respect and friendship were discussed.

Session 4 – Malawi-China relations: Challenges and opportunities by Mrs Elida Kamanga (Mzuzu University)

This session extended the analysis of China’s development aid practices within the context of African countries and leaders. A comparison was made with other African trade partners, particularly Western partners, and how they have not only been received by government leaders in Africa, but by local community politicians and civil servants.

Furthermore, the rhetoric of China by some Western countries was assessed, particularly the role of some Western media platforms.

Session 5 – Essential law for journalists (Libel and defamation in Malawi) by Senior Resident Magistrate Godfrey Nyirenda of the Malawi Judiciary

This session explored the legal rights of journalists in speech, practice and publication. The session explored this in line with that of the rights of private citizens, the legalities around press conferences and public meetings, access to information and privilege, the concept of the law of defamation, protection against libel actions, and the requirement of fair and accurate reporting.

Session 6 – Pitching guidelines and development journalism by Collins Mtika (Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi)

CIJM Executive Director Collins Mtika led the last session and encouraged the journalists to embark on developmental journalism where they are able to write feature stories, investigative stories and analytical stories. The journalists were instructed on the fundamentals of pitching stories to donors and publishing developmental stories.

“We want to develop a cadre of journalists who can come up with news ideas, explore those ideas, investigate and write feature stories and documentaries about Africa-China relations but focusing on Malawi. The stories may go either way; positive or negative but it is the readers who should judge the relationship and not the journalist themselves,” Mtika said.

Participating journalists:

  • Madalisto Kateta (Freelance)
  • Draxson Maloya (Dziko FM and Malawi Freedom Network)
  • Mbauwo Chavula (Blantyre Synod Radio)
  • Blair Mhone (MBC)
  • Jenipher Changwanda (Radio Maria)
  • Tionge Esther Hara (Mzimba Community Radio)
  • Martha Chirambo (Nation Newspaper)
  • Mike Zgambo (Malawi24)
  • Philip Phasula (NyasaTimes)
  • Patience Lunda (Times Media)

Resources:

Workshop presentations:

A collection of publications emanating from the workshop in Malawi will be published by the ACRP in due course.