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German firm trains African female journalists on newsroom managerial skills

African female journalists have undergone leadership training to acquire the managerial skills to run newsroom affairs in the growing new media landscape.

In a recent training in Zanzibar dubbed “leadership in the newsroom” organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF)-a German Civil Society Organisation, female journalists from the three East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) were trained on how to equip themselves with newsroom leadership skills as well war coverage.

The female editors and senior journalists are drawn from Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe and also got lifestyle skills on how to balance work and personal life.

The one-week workshop also provided an opportunity for the participants to share real-life experiences and how to cope with challenges arising in the newsrooms as well as put in place structures on career progression, sexual harassment policy and gender issues.

South African freelance journalist and trainer Carien du Plessis, took the team through training on covering war and telling the African story.

She put emphasis on the importance of telling the African story in reporting war stories, especially the women.

“The stories are usually skewed to favour the men since the society is patriarchal towards women. The women’s stories are always those of desperation, in dire need of help. We should have coverage of positive stories of women on the frontline in times of war,” urged Carien, adding that the coverage should be people-driven and bring out the human face.

Carien underscored the need to have women in decision-making positions to be able to amplify issues of women, children and the vulnerable

FNF EAC‘s Judie Kaberia guided the participants on the action points and how to deal with emerging issues in newsroom management.

Salome Kitomari, news editor -the Guardian limited in Tanzania also urged female journalists to step up and demand for their space.

“Most of the women in the newsroom will be appointed on leadership in the newsrooms on an acting position and when the recruitment is finally done, they are replaced by their male counterparts. In terms of remuneration, the women are sometimes overlooked and not

Salome is also the Chairperson Media Institute of Southern Africa MISA-TANZANIA urged the participants to be resilient in their journalistic work despite the myriad of changes they face in the newsrooms.

“We are role models to the younger generation. We should strive to achieve what we believe in and ensure the newsroom environment is better for young and upcoming female journalists. We are should mentor and document our experiences in the industry,” urged Salome.

FNF’s EAC Programme officer Veni Swai challenged journalists to build the capacity of woman leaders and colleagues by ensuring their voice is heard in national discourses.

“Women go through a lot. There is the issue of stereotypes, family challenges and traditions that also play a role in the life of women. We should always underscore the need to have a woman’s voice in the stories we cover. We should focus more on the positive aspects as opposed to always portraying them as the weaker gender,” said Veni.

She explained,” This training was structured to encourage the participants to be more aware of self. Journalists tend to give their all to the work but the training also explores other ways to ensure there is a balance between work and personal hygiene. When do female journalists take time off their busy schedule to relax? This is very crucial for mental stability.”

FNF Zimbabwe programmes Fungisai Sitole challenged the women in the newsroom to rally their issues together and ensure they stamp their authority.

Marike Groenewald, a leadership development trainer and coach from South Africa took the participants through the newsroom leadership while

The participants took a 30-40 minutes online leadership assessment on an integrative enneagram questionnaire to gauge their thinking skills.

The participants undertook the enneagram thinking to help them in the leadership journey in the newsroom.

“The exercise gives one a perspective of who they are and areas they need work on. The personality online test helps one to discover who truly they are in detail,” she stated as she urged participants to examine themselves by taking the test.

Marike also stressed the importance of having time and sharing issues without being interrupted.

“We rarely get an opportunity where you just have someone to listen to you without interruption or judging. It is important to have listening friends with whom you can have 30 minutes of personal reflection of any topic. It is quite healthy and very fulfilling,” she explained, as she tasked the participants to pair in twos and just take time to share on any time topic without any interruptions.

The trainers took the journalists through ways to embrace both their achievements and setbacks, self-awareness and legitimacy of their feelings to not confuse facts.​

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