Feature Writing Training for Women Journalist in Eastern Development Region


Executive Summary

Sancharika Samuha (SAS) Nepal in partnership with The Royal Norwegian Embassy completed a four-day Feature Writing training and one-day sensitization class for 20 women journalists from 12 districts of Eastern Development Region, namely Terhathum, Jhapa, Sunsari, Ilam, Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Udayapur, altOkhaldhunga, Morang, Saptari, Taplejung and Dhankuta organized from 23-27 September 2014 in Bhedetar, Dhankuta.

This training was organized as part of the capacity building of mid-career women journalists to write feature stories particularly focusing on gender issues and gender-based violence. Senior journalists Mr Mohan Mainali, Ms Sangeeta Lama and Ms Manchala Jha; and Ms Nirmala Sharma, President of SAS facilitated the training sessions.

Day one commenced with the Introduction session by Mr Mainali and Ms Lama. In the beginning of training session, as asked by trainers Mr Mainali and Ms Lama, the participants shared their name, experience in media, qualification, interests and where they see themselves five years down the line. The participants were then asked to note down the things they find easy and tough during feature writing and to share. Each of them shared their feature writing experiences. Mr Mainali reviewed the agenda along with the participants and asked their feedback, he then shared the ground rules.

Mr Mainali began his session with the introduction to feature. He differentiated between a feature and news; spoke about the characteristics, importance and types of feature. He also shared the objectives of feature writing. Ms Lama asked the participants to share the issue selection problems they have faced  during feature writing. The participants shared their problems and she provided suggestions. She then shared how one can select issues tactfully. She said that the essential components of feature such as story, characters, climax and conclusion. Mr Mainali taught ways  for preparing before feature writing and some instances about information collection from documents.

The day two began with SAS introduction and review session by Ms Sharma. She introduced  Sancharikaalt Samuha along with its  nature, mission and objectives. She then recapitulated the lessons taught on day one.

After the review session, Ms Lama taught the ways of Information collection for Feature through documents. She said that both primary and secondary sources (published or unpublished) can be used for information collection. Mr Mainali collected the documents gathered by the participants before attending the training. He then gave instances on how information can be collected through documents.

Mr Mainali presented slides on Information collection through Interview. He asked the participants to note down the longest time span they have spent with the source for developing one feature, the time ranged from half an hour to 2 hours. He then told the participants that feature writing becomes easier when the audio clips are transcribed. He then formed groups and shared a piece of audio to each group. He asked the participants to transcribe the audio as home assignment. Then Ms Lama oriented the participants to Information Collection through Internet and also displayed the web pages to show how information can be collected through it.

Day three began with the review session by Ms Sharma. The participants shared what they had learnt the previous day. Mr Mainali asked the participants about the home  assigned given to them the previous day. He said that it was very important to verify the information collected from all the sources. Ms Lama presented slides on structure of feature story. She illustrated the feature structure with a feature story from the reading material.

Mr Mainali presented slides on Information collection through observation. He showed a video clip to participants and he asked them to observe and describe the scene. The participants were then engaged in writing practice.

On day four, during the review session, Ms Sharma encouraged the passive participants to participate in the review session. She asked the participants to share what they learnt the previous day. After the review session, Mr Mainali continued writing practice. He, together with the trainees, sorted out important contents from the documents transcribed by the trainees. The introduction, problems, causes and consequences were identified. He shared the electronic version of Nepali dictionary with the trainees to help them make proper selection of words and improve their writing accuracy. At the end of feature writing session, Mr Mainali summed up the all the lessons on feature writing.

Mr Tanka Upreti, Research Expert and Executive Director of Citizens' Campaign for Right to Information (RTI) altshared the basics of Right to Information with the participants. He said that proper utilization of RTI is extremely important for information collection.

On day five, the last day of training, resource person Ms Manchala Jha conducted the class for sensitization against GBV. She oriented the participants to the basic concept of sex and gender and differences between them. She also presented slides on gender-based violence (GBV), gender equity and equality, violence against women in Nepal, harmful traditional practices against women. Discussions were carried out on different forms of GBV and the roles that media can play to combat violence. Some GBV issues were also identified through discussion for feature writing.

The training then concluded with certificate distribution program and remarks from trainers Mr Mainali, Ms Lama and two trainee representatives Ms Seema Aavas and Ms Rakshya Chaudhari. The chairperson of closing ceremony, Ms Nirmala Sharma, thanked the local coordinator Ms Nilipha Subba, trainers, trainees, and management team for making the training successful. She encouraged the trainees to contribute feature and news reports to SAS online, radio, feature service and TV program.

 

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Activities

Interaction
In order to complement its initiatives to mainstream women's issues in the media and to initiate fresh discourse on the contemporary issues affecting the lives of women in general and women journalists in particular, SAS organizes interactions frequently. Over the years, SAS has earned a reputation of raising the economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights violation issues and holding interactions among journalists, women's rights activists, government officials, civil society leaders, opinion formers and other stakeholders. It has been interacting with the wider stakeholders on issues like women's representation in the Constituent Assembly (CA), political participation in all spheres of social life and their faire representation in all levels of political parties and on issues like domestic violence, witch accusation, dowry-related violence and other violence against women. During the run-up to elections to the CA, SAS organized many interactions among the stakeholders on its own and in partnership with other like-minded organizations, for instance.

Jingle/PSA
With an objective of informing, educating, and calling for an action on issues of press freedom, women's equal participation in state affairs, to end violence against women, to sensitize the general public on respecting the rights of people, to create public awareness gender equality and on other contemporary issues, SAS produces and broadcasts various jingles and public service announcements (PSAs) on different radio and television stations. While producing such jingles and PSAs, SAS pays attention to the target audience and broadcasts them in major languages of Nepal including Nepali. SAS often produces and broadcasts such informative audio-visuals in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, coalitions and social movements.

Training & Workshop
SAS has been carrying out various programs with an overarching goal of mainstreaming women's issues in the media and supportive activities with an objective of enhancing the capacity of women journalists in order to increase their participation in journalism and retain them in the profession. Right from its inception in 1996, SAS has been organizing various capacity-building programs for women journalists. Among them, Basic Journalism, Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting training and workshops are the major and regular activities of the organization. The journalists thus trained are given opportunity to contribute articles to its Feature Service in Nepali and English, SAS Radio and TV programs and to Sancharika Online.
The journalists trained by SAS have been producing feature stories, investigative reportage and other hard news and contributing to SAS-run media apart from other mainstream media both electronic and print they are affiliated with.

Press Release
Sancharika Samuha, being a pioneer forum of women journalists and communicators, works to safeguard the rights of female journalists, journalists in particular and women in general. In order to ward off possible violation of rights and to draw the attention of the state to provide justice to victims in the aftermath of rights violation plus to call for an action regarding inclusion, equality and meaningful participation of women in different fields of social life, SAS issues press releases.
It also issues press releases to condemn attack on press freedom and safety of journalists besides informing concerned state and non-state actors on its activities targeted to the betterment of the promotion and protection of the rights of women journalists in particular and media people in general. The organization also issues press release on issues of national importance and women's equal participation in decision-making bodies of the state.

Documentary
SAS produces documentaries to capture the reality of the lives of people mostly women whose basic rights are violated. It focuses on denial of the rights of women to acquire citizenship through matriarchy, domestic violence, gender-based violence, violence caused by harmful traditional practices such as dowry, deprivation of girl children from basic education, discrimination against girls and women in different fields of their social life. The organization produces and airs such documentaries with an objective of informing the general public on certain issues of rights violation and drawing the attention of the state to protect and promote their rights, thereby supporting to establish a gender-equal society. SAS has produced many documentaries on violence against women and has aired them through different television channels of Nepal.

Reports
SAS carries out studies on different issues mainly focusing on women journalists, press freedom, media monitoring, status of women journalists, violence against women, domestic violence, structural violence and gender discrimination. Traditional and cultural practices harmful to women are also another area of its advocacy. SAS advocates with and through the media primarily on the basis of the findings of the reports in order to change state policies and programs in favour of women.
The organization also prepares reports of collective campaigns carried out in different times depending on the urgency of issues and events. Likewise, SAS also prepares reports on media monitoring and documents and shares the findings of such studies. Reports prepared and shared by SAS have become very useful for policy-makers, implementers, students and scholars besides women's rights activists and apologists.

Television Programme
Since 4 November 2013, SAS has been producing television programme titled "Samakon" on Kantipur Television. The objective of the programme is to dig out the issues of gender-based violence, bring them to the notice of duty bearers, support survivors of such violence by providing them an opportunity to share the injustice, and create awareness among people in order to create a gender-friendly society.