Groundbreaking Work in DRC: Roadmaps for Responsible Reporting

Written by Naregh Galoustian, Program Manager of JHR’s Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo

 

Responsible media during elections is key to ensure a peaceful and inclusive process, especially in countries transitioning into democracy, like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

 

In this country, with its extraordinary history of civil war, instability and widespread corruption, reporters are continually harassed by opposing political factions for biased coverage of political events.

 

Biased media coverage increased during the 2011 elections. This led to widespread violence across the country amidst contested final results. Despite recent attempts to include opposition parties in the public dialogue, many fear that the upcoming 2016 elections will be even more contested and violent.

 

To combat these issues, JHR started conducting training for journalists to report more responsibly on elections across several provinces outside the capital city Kinshasa. We’ve worked across eight of the eleven provinces in the country – in rural areas, where the need for professional and credible reporting is particularly acute.

 

In the very polarized province of Equateur, JHR succeeded in getting warring media station owners to commit to and practice a more responsible version of elections coverage through 2011 and 2012.

 

In March 2016, JHR will hold an unprecedented national forum in Kinshasa in partnership with the national media regulatory body,the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication (CSAC), and the national electoral commission, the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI), attended by leading media practitioners to draft a roadmap for responsible media coverage of the upcoming elections.

 

Since 2007, JHR has been at the forefront of encouraging peaceful and inclusive elections through responsible media, and it commits to continue doing so over the next year as well.

 

Through the power of one single story produced by JHR-trainee Alphonse Nekwa, the marginalized hearing and speech-impaired community in Matadi (Bas-Congo province) has begun to be included in the political process of elections as citizens with full rights.

 

This is just one powerful example of how media can bring about positive change.

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