Observations from #SocialMedia trainings

Dhangadhi Training.

In October and November 2012, I travelled five places to train journalists in use of social media. The training was organized by Equal Access Nepal and funded by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Japan and UNESCO.

The five training venues were: Biratnagar (east Nepal), Balthali, Kavre (central), Pokhara (west), Dhangadhi (far-west) and Nepalgunj (mid-west). Altogether more than 150 journalists attended the two-day residential training – at an average of 30 trainees per venue.

The training was officially titled ‘training of new media and constitutional issues’ and it included a couple of sessions from legal experts as well.

My sessions were basically a) overview of online journalism and social media b) social media usages for journalists c) web writing d) ethical issues on online/social media and e) practical session on use of Facebook and Twitter for journalistic purposes.

Binaya Guragain led a few sessions – especially on online publication and need of journalists to opine and network on social media and his colleagues were great help for practical sessions.

Here are some observations, mainly related to the use of social media by journalists, from those trainings.

Journalists still to explore

All participants have Facebook accounts and a quarter have Twitter account but they all are using it for personal purposes. They were using them for some of journalistic purposes but that number was very limited.

My impression is: journalists in Nepal are not alien to social media but they are using it very prematurely as a fun tool rather than something that could help them to enhance their profession.

Kathmandu journalists are ahead

While four among five trainings were basic level, the training for central region, which included many young journalists from Kathmandu, was a level high.

It was because most of the participants were well-versed with use of Facebook and Twitter, also some of them using it for their professional skills.

So they were very enthusiastic to learn more and advanced use of social media tools and I had to do extra effort to prepare materials for them outlining practical skills with examples.

Participants of Social Media for Journalists training in Pokhara, west Nepal.

Journalists want to learn

I’ve attended a few trainings, heard about many trainings and have observed a few trainings for journalists in past. And, as many other trainers, I got a feeling that many journalists are not interested in learning because many participants were hardly focusing on what’s going on.

I don’t claim that all the journalists were focused this time, and there were times when we the trainers expressed frustrated during evening-discussions but overall majority of journalists were enthusiastic to learn social media and online journalism.

A very interesting memory is that in Balthali, we did a session in evening before the formal start of the training and then many of the journalists stayed in the training hall for next two nights, until around mid-night, working out on computers.

Many of them expressed that the two-day residential training was not enough and many things remained to be learnt.

A beginning but continuation is key

That’s the conclusion and its true for both the organizers and participants.

For participants, many of them learnt something new – some new tools or new techniques to use the tools they were already using for professional skills. But for them to continuation of using them is a key.

For organizers (and donors), it was a good beginning because the trainings were first of its kind – the topic was new, the setting with individual computers with high-speed Internet connection to each participant is new.

Journalists too enjoyed and took it well but if they’re looking into increased use of social media by journalists for journalism and want to real results, the training should continue, and followed up with more.

Thank you note: Let me take this opportunity to express my thanks to – the participants (everyone of them were super exciting), EAN (specially Binaya Guragain who managed all my rescheduling enduring pressure from donors), EAN staffs (specially Ganesh Upadhyay, Karuna Paudel and Jeevan Sharma), good friends from UNDP (Renu Kshetri andA Dilla Pant).

I also immensely enjoyed meeting and talking with other trainers (my media law teacher during university years Kashi Raj Dahal, legal experts Mohan Acharya, Buddhi Karki, Basant Adhikari and Prof Krishna Khanal).

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Ujjwal Acharya

The Radiant Star is a personal blog of Ujjwal Acharya, born 1978, who likes to call himself a professional journalist, hobbyist blogger, sport lover and social media enthusiastic. This blog features personal posts with opinions on media, citizen journalism and blogs of Nepal and tweets at @UjjwalAcharya

5 thoughts on “Observations from #SocialMedia trainings”

  1. Well written Ujjwal jee!

    As I was also attended all five training with you I would say this type of training was organized in Nepal for the first time & I am pround to lead such training under EAN banner. I agree, continuation of using social media tools that participants journalists learned is challenging. Moreover, recent census result shows that nearly 4% population use Internet in Nepal meaning access to internet is still a major concern. Accessible, affordable internet with high bandwidth are concerned key issues where journalists can raise voice along.

    My involvement from designing to implementing the such training I would totally agree with you that need of such training to the larger network of journalists is highly required in Nepal which will help them boost their professional skills.

    Thank you for writing such a nice blog on your experience.

  2. As internet is rapidly becoming our main source of information and communication, it is imperative that journalists adapt to and utilize social media. Nice post Ujjwal Dai!

  3. Thanks Ujjwal ji, the trainings we hope have been instrumental, as you have said they were the first of their kind and more importantly the skill-based.
    I also endorse your observations that journalists perhaps feel saturated with a number of trainings they take! Evidences speak for themselves. A pile of certificates they hold don’t seem to have worked so effectively as yet. Problems do exist, reasons for which are multiple and a true sense of seriousness compounds the challenges. People still seem to be ignoring a fact that well received input would yield a well-built output! This said we should not let ourselves down because there is a significant majority who is always passionate about learning and should therefore be taken into account. Bitter, blunt and may be offending it might sound to recall, but handful trainees from western region can be a point of reference in this relation who grossly appeared antonymous to the participants of 4 other trainings across the country. This is my personal observation however.
    Ujjwal ji, your clear, to the point and well-articulated projection of contents varying according to the nature of participants and friendly presentations made things work so well. I see a huge prospects in you, keep your spirits up as you are. Many other names you have taken above deserve a true appreciation for their stake! EA colleagues- thanks to you all. I will remember all those delicacies including the Nangle Pizzo, Honeymoon Chicken to Chicken-33, sweet jokes, cool company with you all-with a hope that we all shall encounter again to be part of such trainings some day, Thanks to you all.

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