By Florence Dzame, Internews in Kenya.
“I only have five minutes to talk to you,” says Tole Nyatta, rushing into the office, camera in hand. Nyatta is a senior journalism trainer at Internews. He is part of a team of mentors who are working with journalists reporting on the elections. Over 6 feet tall, he easily towers over many people and he’s a familiar presence, wherever big stories hit and journalists need someone to look up to.
Internews Free and Fair Media program (FFM) has been training and mentoring journalists on reporting objectively and accurately on elections. Since August 2011, the program has trained over 250 journalists from mainstream media on election reporting, and supported the production of over 1,000 election stories.
The FFM workshops have focused on understanding election laws, analyzing results, packaging informed and comprehensive coverage, and following up on the implementation of the Constitution.
On the day of the election, the team went to the field with journalists and mentored their stories.
“We met journalists in the morning and helped them map their stories and talked about their coverage strategy. In the field we mainly assisted the journalists with scripting and editing,” said Nyatta.
Nyatta has 16 journalists in his care from Koch fm, Pamoja fm, Radio Lake Victoria, Radio Namlolwe, Baraka fm, Radio Sahara, Radio Amani and Sauti ya Mwananchi. He also mentors journalists by phone.
“The challenge with calling journalists is some stations don’t broadcast in English but I hope nothing is lost in translation,” he says.
Nyatta was a trainer at Internews in 2007, when the country was rocked by violence after election results were announced. The media was accused of playing a part in fuelling the violence. In many ways, securing free, fair and objective coverage for this crucial week in 2013 is what Tole and colleagues have been working towards through months of engagement with journalists.
“It has been an awesome experience,” says Nyatta, “I can already see a big improvement in the way elections are reported this time.”
In 2008, The Internews Leadership award was granted to Tole Nyatta, for his leadership role, mentoring journalists in Kenya to redefine their role in conflict