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DW Akademie trains Tunisian journalists prior to elections

DW Akademie increases its activities in Tunisia to support the country’s ongoing democratization process. A new project for Tunisian radio and TV journalists focuses on election and political reporting.

Tunisia's first fully-fledged parliamentary and presidential elections since the overthrow of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the 2010-2011 revolution are expected to be held in mid-2013. They follow the elections for a constituent assembly, which were held in October 2011. In this situation, the mass media play a pivotal role in the transition process, as they inform the public and help shape political opinions.

"Until last year, elections in Tunisia never followed a democratic path," said Michael Tecklenburg, coordinator for North Africa at DW Akademie. "This creates a problem for Tunisian journalists, as they have little experience in reporting on free elections."

To address this problem, DW Akademie will cooperate with selected radio and TV stations in Tunis and other cities in northern, eastern and southern Tunisia: DW consultants and trainers will not only train journalists in various aspects of political reporting, but also advise their colleagues with regard to the long-term planning of election campaign coverage and production management. The project will start in September, after the end of Ramadan.

Creating a new generation of Tunisian journalists

DW began its engagement in Tunisia in February 2011, right after the downfall of the former president Ben Ali, with a series of workshops on political reporting for radio, television and online journalists representing both public and private media. The aim was to provide the mainly young Tunisian colleagues with basic skills for covering the election for the constituent assembly.

Other projects looked at the role of the media in general, and of public service broadcasters in particular, ethical issues in blogging and citizen journalism, and standards of academic journalism education - together with DW Akademie’s local partner, the Institute of Media and Information Sciences (IPSI) at Tunisia's Manouba University.

"We are very happy that we are able to cooperate with such a highly respected institution”, said Tecklenburg. "Our long-term goal is to contribute to the creation of a new generation of well-trained, professional and democratic-minded journalists in Tunisia.”

Excellence in media capacity development

Besides Tunisia, DW Akademie implemented major training and consultancy projects in Egypt and Libya - two other North African countries that have recently undergone political upheavals - in 2011 and 2012. DW experts supported partner stations in both countries during the recent parliamentary elections, and are cooperating with universities and other training institutions in both countries. A number of training workshops focusing on political, economic and environmental reporting for radio, TV and online journalists were conducted in Algeria and Morocco.

In addition, DW Akademie increased its presence in the region by opening an office in Tunis, Tunisia's capital, in December 2011. It serves as a base for coordinating DW Akademie's activities in the Maghreb region, which are mainly financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the German Federal Foreign Office and the European Union.

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