Improving Media Outreach Skills in Papua
PAPUA, Indonesia – Derwes Yikwa, public relations officer for the Tolikara Regional Secretariat office, used to struggle to convince Papuan media outlets to take up his press releases. But that changed once he got some training – which changed both his attitude about outreach and his techniques.
Participants in media outreach training workshop practice their interviewing skills.
Firmansyah & Friends (F&F), with the support of the SERASI project, realized that Yikwa is not alone in his challenges, so he started a program to develop a network of community journalists. Engaging both community members and others that interact with the media, F&F spearheaded new ways to communicate issues to local communities. Community journalists, government officials, and local youth are trained in basic writing and editing skills, and researching and reporting stories.
Radio station staff and print journalists in the region also receive mentoring in the new methods. By working with Papua’s radio stations and other media outlets, and using social media as a communication tool, F&F has developed and produced community-driven news stories about health, education, social issues, agriculture, and livelihoods.
Yikwa, who frequently interacts with the media, quickly realized that journalism skills play a major role in ensuring information is presented in a user-friendly way. “I learned so much from the training. It was always difficult to get news disseminated by the media because I was sending them raw material rather than a real story.”
Through this training, and together with other aspiring journalists, he learned more about the basics of journalism, helping him understand the need to send information to the media in a more polished form. Now he does so, resulting in greater uptake by media outlets and the information appearing in print and on radio.
“The news about communities—who we are, what we do, what our programs are—is in the news far more often now. The communities are more well-informed and represented,” he says.
To date, more than 100 journalists and volunteers from four districts in the Papua highlands have participated in the project and produced and broadcast hundreds of stories focusing on livelihoods, health and hygiene, and education. F&F estimates that combined, regular broadcasts featuring stories by training participants reach 500,000 listeners.
SERASI is a five-year USAID-funded project that promotes community solutions to governance and social challenges. It is implemented by International Relief & Development.