The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) is working in Afghanistan to support the development of the print media. Organisers hope to build a new generation of Afghan print journalists by guiding them through the publishing process, providing space for debate and discussion, promoting local and international publishing, and fostering active engagement with other media and development organisations. An immediate goal is to improve reporting of humanitarian, social, and political issues; the ultimate purpose of the programme is to strengthen the print media as a cornerstone of independent civil society in Afghanistan, increasing local understanding of and participation in the political process.
Communication Strategies: 

This programme supports the recovery of the Afghan media by training journalists, syndicating articles on humanitarian recovery and democratisation to the local press, and supporting joint research and other projects with regional publications and training institutions.

IWPR places international trainers in Kabul to provide intensive, practical training. Due to the low level of journalism expertise in Afghanistan, classroom training on professional issues and skills prepares journalists and journalism students who have little or no experience to begin writing for IWPR. These workshops have been held in Kandahar, Herat, Mazar, Kunduz, and Badakhshan as well as in Kabul. IWPR's trainers then commission stories from selected trainees journalists, taking them through each stage in the reporting and editing process. Occasional reporting projects take groups of journalists from different ethnic groups to cover issues in other regions of Afghanistan, which is a training tool designed to encourage objective reporting.

Stories written by trainees are published in the Afghan Recovery Report (ARR), which appears each week on IWPR's website in English, Dari, and Pashto. This bulletin is also distributed free of charge by email. This international platform reflects a strategy of enabling local opinions on the recovery process to reach and, possibly, influence international decision-makers. ARR is also provided free of charge to all local media for republication, which is an effort to ensure that objective information on key issues facing the country can reach the widest possible readership.

IWPR provides more formalised training for the staff of the Bakhtar Information Agency, the main disseminator of information in Afghanistan. A joint reporting project to produce daily articles for local and national radio began in the winter of 2002.

With an office in the Kabul Media Centre, IWPR serves as a meeting place and resource centre for the local print media. Editors and reporters consult regularly with the international trainer, and are provided with sources of information and reports for their own publications.

Development Issues: 

Media development, Conflict.

Key Points: 

IWPR provided coverage of the proceedings of the Loya Jirga, the traditional tribal assembly held in June 2002 to choose Afghanistan's government. Organisers say that the international media present at the proceedings were writing for an international audience, and their reports were thus inaccessible to the Afghans who would be most affected. IWPR assembled a team of 8 journalists from different regions of the country, who provided a daily news service, producing 31 stories in 10 days. While providing practical skills development and on-the-job experience in managing a large reporting project, the initiative was also an effort to produce balanced and informative reports from the local perspective. The reports were distributed to 6 leading Dari and Pashto newspapers for republication, and also in English at the Hotel Intercontinental, informing the many international journalists based there. IWPR has now transcribed all 70 hours of the proceedings in 3 languages, in order to produce a historical record of the Loya Jirga.

Ultimately, organisers say, a healthy print sector will contribute to conflict resolution and confidence-building among the Afghan population and its different ethnic groups.

Partner Text: 

IWPR, Bakhtar Information Agency (BIA), Farda, Sarahat, and Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan. Funders: the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the British Department for International Dvelopment (DFID), the European Union (EU), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Open Society Institute (OSI).