March 27 2021: Mobilizing Media to Fight Covid-19, One Year On

This week’s highlights

  • Mobilizing Media to Fight Covid-19, One Year On
  • Celebrating Women’s Leadership for #WomensHistoryMonth Mali 
  • Sign up! Solutions Journalism and Human Rights Reporting Webinar
  • 2021 JHR’s Indigenous Youth Reporter Award, Shortlist Announced
  • The Gordon N. Fisher/JHR Journalism Fellowship at Massey College 2021/2022
  • Work with JHR ! BIPOC Consultant position available 
  • TVO Call for Submissions
  • Apply Now ! Media Girlfriends Scholarships for High School Students in Canada

Mobilizing Media to Fight Covid 19

Photo Credit: Kolubah Akoi

It’s been a full year in the time of coronavirus. And yet who can forget those seemingly endless first weeks of lockdown last March. While some hoarded toilet paper and epidemiologists warned of years of pandemic, others, including the U.S. president, dismissed covid-19 as no worse than the flu.
And here we are, still at home, one year and far too many deaths later.
It’s been a year of crisis and challenges, and tragedy for too many. And it’s been a year of dramatic change for Journalists for Human Rights. A year of everybody, from Thunder Bay to Tunisia to Toronto, working from home. A year of taking as much training online, or to online workarounds, as we could. And a year of rigorous introspection, as we ended, and evaluated the impact of, the first powerful phase of a Global Affairs Canada-funded program Strengthening Media in South Sudan, while rapidly launching a new GAC-supported initiative Mobilizing Media to Fight Covid-19 in 12 countries across Africa and the Middle East.
The results of all this change are more agile, focused, targeted programs, reaching more journalists and more audiences with more stories on human rights than ever before, both nationwide here in Canada and internationally.
More human rights stories reaching more audiences equals massive impact.
  • In Mali, stories from JHR-trained journalists demonstrated how the hearing impaired were left out of PSAs and coverage of coronavirus on TV. That led to the state broadcaster including sign language interpretation on all items related to covid-19. This helped ensure greater safety for a population of 309,000 people.
  • In Syria, a JHR-mentored story with Aleppo TV directed international and regional attention and resources to addressing the mental health crisis accompanying the pandemic.
  • In Jordan, stories JHR-mentored journalists produced helped spotlight the plight of garment workers in ways that sparked better enforcement of regulations.
Here at home, we launched a Canada-wide program introducing human rights reporting with a solutions journalism approach, supported by the McConnell Foundation in partnership with Solutions Journalism Network (for more, sign up for the webinar this coming Tuesday at 1pm EST). In partnership with First Draft News, and supported by the McConnell, Trottier and Rossy Foundations, we deepened our commitment to training Canadian journalists on techniques to identify and debunk misinformation and disinformation about covid-19 safely. We pivoted our Indigenous Reporters Program online, helping get more Indigenous journalists a foot in the door of newsrooms, while ensuring more Indigenous voices were reporting on news in ways that centered Indigenous experience (read on for our next round of shortlisted award-winners.) And we helped incubate a dynamic new association for independent media start-ups in Canada, Press Forward.
Result?  In just three months, from January of this year to March, team JHR trained over 400 journalists worldwide. Those 400 journalists’ stories reached an average audience of 27 million people. In three months. Through a variety of lockdowns. In a pandemic.
Those results are a testament to one of the strongest teams in JHR’s proud history of strong teams. Led by Deputy Director Bill Killorn, Finance Director Nabin Pokharel, who navigated half that time with one key staff member down with covid-19 (now recovered), Director of Policy Janine de Vries, International Programs Director Zein Almoghraby and Canada Project Manager Jordan MacInnis, with strong assists from International Programs Manager Aicha Toure, Project Associate Nesreen Abusultan, Indigenous Programs Manager Leigh Nunan, Communications lead Eleanor Cole, and the team in Finance, Associate Manager Sarala Sigdel, Associates Karolina Mikula, Maria Carballo and now Finance Manager Abduallai Lawan. And that’s just HQ – we have been and will continue to celebrate Board members and team leads in the field in other newsletters.
33 of the journalists trained in the first quarter came from across Mauritania, Iraq and Yemen. Yet JHR has never had a physical on-the-ground presence in any of these countries. That we could draw 33 regional top journalists to a training held exclusively online is a testament to the leadership of the people who put that work together: Field Coordinator Basim Mohamed, supported by Director of Policy Janine de Vries and Project Associate Nesreen Abusultan in head office. It’s also a leading indicator that post-pandemic, we will be able to do training very differently. We’re only just starting to brainstorm all the possibilities.
Doing this work is an immense privilege. It’s also a joy, as the smiling faces in the photo illustrating JHR Mali’s work with women leaders clearly demonstrate.
Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of JHR. If you can, please support this incredible game-changing work today with a small one-time or monthly donation. Why not direct the funds you aren’t currently spending on coffee or tea to a monthly $25 gift to journalists sharing life-saving information about covid-19? Every bit helps. To donate, please go here.
Thank you for reading, for caring, and thank you for your support!



Rachel Pulfer
Executive Director
Journalists for Human Rights

Women’s History Month: JHR and its partners in Mali give a voice to female community leaders

Photo Credit: JHR Mali

To celebrate the achievements of women in Mali during Women’s History Month, Journalists for Human Rights, in coordination with grassroots radio stations Radio Royale de Ouinzindougou, organized an interactive radio show highlighting the contribution of Malian women to society. The show sought to center and amplify the voices of female community leaders working on improving women and girls’ rights in their respective communities. In attendance were Mme Diarra Kadiatou Sanogo, Project Officer at the Women’s Cooperative for Education, Family Health and Sanitation (COFESFA Mali), Mme Doumbia Fatoumata Diane, President of the Coordination of Mande Women’s Associations and NGOs (CAFO), and Mlle Aminata Maiga, Executive Vice President of the Junior Chamber Office Mande Elite.
Malian women have historically been severely underrepresented in public life. Currently, only 16% of members of the transitional government are female. Concurrently, women’s issues are rarely considered a priority. For example, the Malian jurisdiction does not provide for any law against domestic violence or other forms of violence against women. In 2019, a draft law on GBV was introduced and later abandoned due to pressure from conservative groups.
Earlier this year, the Minister for the Promotion of Women, Children, and the Family, Dandara Toure, attempted to reintroduce the law unsuccessfully. Even though the country’s constitution guarantees equal rights to all citizens, embedded patriarchal cultural norms hinder the advancement of women’s rights. However, the transition period presents an opportunity to secure greater rights for women and girls as the process involves a redistribution and renegotiation of power which can be beneficial to women.  The women in attendance at the radio show highlighted the importance of centering women’s issues for sustainable development.
JHR continues to provide a platform for female leaders and women’s rights organizations in Mali to ensure their issues are taken into consideration during this critical period.  JHR believes that women’s participation in the post-coup institution-building process is essential for inclusive democracy and by extension sustainable peace.

Sign up! Solutions Journalism and Human Rights Reporting Webinar

This Tuesday March 30 2021 at 1:00 PM EST JHR and Solutions Journalism are hosting a 60 minute introductory webinar, open to all practicing journalists. During the session you will learn the basics of solutions journalism, which is rigorous reporting about responses to social problems, as well as JHR’s approach to human rights reporting.  We’ll discuss how to develop story ideas and use what you’ve learned in your reporting as well as how to create compelling coverage of the issues you’re interested in and empower communities to demand positive social change.
The webinar will be led by JHR trainers Ziya Jones and Kimberley Hartwig and was organized by Journalists for Human Rights in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network.
Sign up here.

2021 Indigenous Youth Reporter Award Shortlist Announced

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2nd Annual Award for Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter.

The 2021 shortlist is:
The award seeks to recognize a piece of outstanding journalism created by a First Nations, Métis or Inuit journalist or team of journalists between the ages of 15 and 29 years old that was published or broadcast in any format and any medium in Canada during the 2020 calendar year.
The award is supported by the RBC Foundation as part of RBC Future Launch, the bank’s 10-year, $500-million commitment to preparing Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow.
The shortlist was chosen by a panel of three judges: Tanya Talaga, Anishinaabe journalist and author; Karyn Pugliese, Algonquian-Italian journalism professor and broadcaster; and Ryan McMahon, Anishinaabe writer, podcaster and comedian.
“It took us a long time to deliberate between the top three stories, all were very strong. The quality of the writing, and the depth of knowledge of the writers was impressive. Editors should keep an eye on all three writers, their talent will take them far in the industry.” – Karyn Pugliese, panelist
About the shortlisted journalists:
Oscar Baker III is Black and Mi’kmaw from Elsipogtog First Nation. He is currently working as a freelance journalist and homemaker from his home in Indian Island First Nation.
Shelby Lisk is a Kanyen’kehá:ka photographer, filmmaker, and journalist with roots in Kenhtè:ke (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory). She is currently TVO’s Indigenous Hub staff writer.
Chezney Martin is Haudenosaunee from the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation living on the Six
Nations of the Grand River Territory Reserve. She is a freelance journalist and Cultural Interpreter at the Woodland Cultural Centre.

Uganda’s Presidential Advisor on Covid-19 speaks with Ugandan journalists

Media training sessions by JHR. Photo Credit: Jima Francis Wani Abrama
As part of JHR’s ‘Mobilizing Media Fighting Covid19’ project, JHR’s media partner Health Journalists Network Uganda (HEJNU), led by Esther Nakkazi invited three speakers, Dr. Monica Musenero, Presidential advisor on Covid19Robert Sempala, the Executive Director of Uganda Human Rights For Journalists and Paul Wasswa, Programs Officer of Center for Health, Human Rights and development (CEHURD).
Dr. Musereno talked with the participating journalists about Covid19 and the technology behind vaccines. She explained that it is hard and highly regulated to get a vaccine on the market because it cannot be done without the approval of the World Health Organization WHO. ‘In Uganda’, she said, ‘we are developing our own and for future diseases we shall be able to submit our own. Uganda has requested 2 vaccines for importation’. She noted that the people who get vaccinated will be protected from death and severe disease infection.
Robert Sempala noted that without a free media, democracy is impossible because media holds the government accountable, exposes wrong doings to alert the public, provides vital information on many things and also provides a platform for public discussion of important local national issues.
Paul Wasswa explained that CEHURDs main focus now is the impact of Covid-19 measures on sexual and reproductive health where the majority of the people were affected because of the measures that the government took on like restriction of movements. There was a very big impact in access to health care services especially to the girls and mothers who were pregnant at the time. He says it was after civil service came together demanding for pregnant women to access health care services that they were considered.  Mr. Wasswa explained that during the lockdown sexual and reproductive health rights like access to proper health care, access to medication to family planning among others were affected.
After each speaker shared their expertise the journalists were able to ask questions about a number of issues such as the vaccine strategy, the risk of herbal remedies and also about the impact of the lockdown measures on child mortality as health services were not accessible, how to support teenage girls as teenage pregnancy rates are increasing and access to accurate information for the public.
Read the full story here.

Apply Now! The Gordon N. Fisher/JHR Journalism Fellowship at Massey College 2021/2022

2019/2020 Fellow Nancy Emefa Dzradosi

The Gordon N. Fisher/JHR Journalism Fellowship at Massey College in the University of Toronto is an annual opportunity for a journalist from the following regions to participate in the William Southam Journalism Fellowship Program:  Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, with preference given to candidates from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan, DR Congo, Syria, Jordan and Indigenous candidates from JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program. Funded by the Alva Foundation in memory of the former president and chief executive officer of the Canadian newspaper and communications company, Southam Inc., the grant allows the Fellowship to be held annually at Massey College and the University of Toronto under the auspices of Journalists for Human Rights.
2019/2020 recipient, Nancy Emefa Dzradosi, is a Ghanaian journalist who specializes in field reporting, anchoring and production. Her works focus on Human rights and Environment. Nancy currently leads Joy FM and Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s Clean Ghana Campaign. In 2018 and 2019, her stories on abandoned lepers and a mentally pregnant woman reignited national conversation on social exclusion. Nancy has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and linguistics from the University of Ghana. She lives in Accra, Ghana.
Click here to apply no later than March 31, 2021.

We’re Hiring!

Journalists for Human Rights is looking for a project consultant to support the development of a new project focussed on increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour in Canadian media. Drawing from lessons learned from Journalists for Human Rights’ Indigenous Reporters Program and ongoing consultations with BIPOC communities and stakeholders in Canada as well as community partners and media partners, JHR is working to achieve greater diversity and enhanced respect for human rights through strengthened media in Canada and to catalyze positive change in how Canadian media hires, reports on and engages with racialized communities.

JHR-TVO Covid Initiative Call for Pitches

JHR and have partnered on an initiative to support emerging Indigenous journalists in Northern Ontario.
Northern Ontario First Nations are dealing with unique challenges and creating unique solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. Through this initiative we aim to give a platform to some of those stories.
In their piece, How First Nations are using radio in the fight against COVID-19, Crystal Hardy Zongwe Binesikwe – a two-spirit Anishnawbe storyteller, nurse practitioner, and PhD candidate from Biinjitiwabik Zaaging Anishnabek, in northern Ontario – delves into the role local radio is playing in communicating vital public health information to community members in isolated First Nations.
Anishinaabe-kwe journalist Jolene Banning, whose work focuses on arts and culture as well as Anishinaabe resilience, explores the ways Indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario are using the arts to help weather the pandemic, in her story, ‘I paint for healing’: Indigenous art in the time of COVID-19.
Applications to this initiative are open now and will be assessed on a first-come first-served basis. Early applications are strongly encouraged.
We are looking for original reporting and feature stories relating to COVID-19 in Northern Ontario First Nations. Selected stories will be published on the website and on other TVO-branded platforms. Successful applicants will be supported through a JHR-facilitated pitch process and TVO mentorship.
Indigenous people (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) residing in Northern Ontario are eligible. Previous journalism experience is not required.
To apply, please fill out this form:
Application deadline: March 29, 2021

For further information, please email us at [email protected]

Apply Now to the Media Girlfriends Fellowships

Media Girlfriends is a podcast company, network & student scholarship. Media Girlfriends support women & non-binary journalists. They work to promote more perspectives in Canadian media, particularly those by Black, Indigenous and other people of colour. Media Girlfriends started as a podcast by Nana aba Duncan, currently a William Southam Journalism Fellow (see above) and formerly JHR’s country director in Ghana !

Journalism students: Apply for a new $10,000 CAD Media Girlfriends scholarship for Black high school students pursuing journalism at a post-secondary institution in Canada, and/or one of two $10,000 CAD Media Girlfriends scholarships for women/trans/non-binary students pursuing journalism, communications, media or tech. Deadline is April 30, 2021. More information, including how to apply, is at



Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge the land on which the Journalists for Human Rights’ head office operates and recognize the longstanding relationships Indigenous nations have with these territories. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Tkaronto (Toronto) is in the Dish with One Spoon Territory and is home to Indigenous peoples from many nations across Turtle Island who continue to care for this land today. 
To read more on JHR’s land acknowledgement, click here. 


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