On September 4, 2015, MISA Lesotho convened journalists to review the progress and impact of its Media Peace Building and Conflict Reporting Now project. The project, funded jointly by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Lesotho, was a five-month intervention to prepare journalists for the February 2015 elections. The project ended in June 2015.
The purpose of the September 4th meeting, in this case funded separately by UNDP, was to review progress made through the intervention and discuss issues for potential follow-up. The one-day meeting was held at Lehakoe Recreation and Cultural Centre and drew 40 participants from both private and public media. UNDP has already indicated its support for more interventions to improve post-election capacity building of Basotho journalists.
The meeting confirmed that media reporting during elections was of a high ethical standard. The quality of reporting was also aided by MISA’s strong coordination, as it had deployed 30 trained journalists throughout the country. The election reports were carried live and simultaneously on nine cooperating radio stations throughout the country.
However, following the elections it appears that there has been regression in reporting quality. This is attributed to the fact that those journalists who were reporting on the 2015 elections are not currently responsible for political reporting in their respective media houses. It has become clear that the scope of the training would have to be extended to include more journalists and also ensure that MISA Lesotho is enabled to continue its coordination efforts.
More exciting capacity building initiatives are being planned for later in the year, including a five-day training workshop on investigative journalism October 5 – 9, 2015.