The 5-day workshop, ran under the wider IFJ project ‘Organising in the Digital Economy’, and focused on issues surrounding media workers operating in the digital space and, more importantly, how best Journalist unions can reach out efficiently to prospective young union members while simultaneously internally strengthening their union’s communication blueprint.
IFJ Deputy Secretary General, Jeremy Dear, acknowledged the often-negative perception towards unions, held by young digital media workers, who deem them to be outdated. The argument was pinned on the generational gap between the “new media” journalists and older, traditional media workers, with Mr. Dear hinting that this may be a prime cause for low youth membership within the unions.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Dear said that the unions must take advantage of the “revolutionary technological change” in the media industry, which is knocking on (positively or negatively) to the general working conditions in the field.
“For the IFJ, [the] strategic priority is to seize these opportunities and build our presence in digital media”, said Mr. Dear.
“Our latest project is about how we equip our affiliates with the tools, information, experience, training and vision to effectively do so”, he added.
Affiliate union members from Kenya, Uganda, The Gambia, Ghana, Angola, Botswana and South Africa were present for the training.
Using fesmedia Africa’s three-part Manual on Communication Strategies for Development and Social Change, Voices with Purpose, as a guide, Facilitators Dr. Ibrahima Sane and Ms. Lelanie Basson tutored the participant unions on the step-by-step processes involved in designing campaign-based communication strategies, be it through entertainment-education, advocacy, social mobilisation or social marketing, and depending on applicable communication paradigms.
Panel discussions, presentations and breakaway sessions all formed sections of the programme, covering popular topics such as security concerns for journalists, exploitation of young entry-level journalists and the challenges faced by women in the field of journalism.
Uganda Journalist’s Union (UJU) member, Stephen Ouma said his union was already keen on designing and implementing the strategies learnt on his return to the East African country.
“We have a lot of campaigns that we have lined up, especially in the north of Uganda”, said Mr. Ouma.
“We hope to use what we have learnt here when reaching out to these parts of the country and strengthen our union’s position through the skills that we have learnt at this workshop”, he added.