Monday, March 14, 2011

More pictures from class

Here’s a few more pictures from last week’s internet training with editors in Dar es Salaam. On the left, Imma Mbuguni, chief editor of Dar Leo, and behind Editha Majura from Mwananchi.

Participants concentrating on their assignments. In the front row, Deo Mushi, features editor of Daily News, together with Edward Kinabo, subeditor of Tanzania Daima.

And here’s another shot of Editha Majura updating her Facebook profile. Thanks to Maggid for the photos.

Final feedback on what we are taking home

On the final day of the training, the participants filled in an assessment questionnaire and also published some postings giving feedback on the training, whether the training week met their expectations and was useful for them in their daily endeavours as editors or as trainers of the new generations of journalists to come.

According to the questionnaire replies, the participants were all pretty happy about the intensive week we’ve had, although some wished that the training would have been even longer, and others complained about the slow speed of the network on some of the days.

Below are some of the comments from the blog postings of the participants.

Revocatus Makaranga says that the programme was very useful for him. It also became clear to him that during the age of internet the mainstream media should develop new ways to present their news to the public.

Edward Kinabo suggests that newspapers would focus on more investigative stories in order to sustain their readership.

Deo Mushi says that he’s pretty sure that the knowledge he got from this course will benefit his colleagues in the editorial office at the Daily News.

Issa Athumani of SJMC writes that “I am a trainer, and carrying this knowledge with me means a lot to my trainees.”

Anicetus Mwesa, Jambo Leo, says that the new knowledge he has gained will help him do his job as a sports editor more effectively.

Betty Tesha from TBC says that she will in the future use the internet and websites for finding more details to her radio programmes. She has already opened a blog for her programme called Kona ya vijana, The Youth Corner.

I also want to thank all participants for a great week with lots of debates and constructive arguments. Thanks to MISA-Tanzania and especially Cecilia Mng’ong’o and Andrew Marawiti for facilitating the event and to Marko Gideon for the pre-training preparations. Thanks also to the IT support and catering at TGDLC and to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland for the funding of the whole internet training programme.

About corruption charges and climate change

On Thursday, the participants were working on some more advanced journalistic research assignments, searching for background information from resources in the internet, and producing stories.

Here are the topics they could choose from:
Climate change in Tanzania
What could be the economic effects of climate change in Tanzania?
Search for information through the internet and remember also to mention your sources.

Jerry Muro court case
It was reported in the Tanzanian press the other day that the trial of TBC journalist Jerry Muro is about begin in court. Make a search from local news sources.
Explain what Jerry Muro is accused of and also how the Tanzanian media has been commenting on the case.

Binyavanga Wainaina
Read the short travel story “He’s my Brother” by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina.
Write a short commentary where you explain the story and what thoughts it raised in you. Also explain who is Binyavanga.
Most of the more senior participants chose to write about the climate change. Here’s the story by Revocatus Makaranga, chief subeditor of Mtanzania newspaper. Here’s the article by Francis Chirwa, editor of the weekly Raia Mwema, focusing especially on the effects on Mount Kilimanjaro. And here’s a link to the story by Nonatus Migwano, journalism lecturer at Royal College of Tanzania.

For the case of the investigative journalist Jerry Muro, see the commentary by Edward Kinabo, subeditor of Tanzania Daima.

Issa Athumani from SJMC was the only one to write about the travel story of Binyavanga Wainaina. The Kenyan author is well-known for publishing his texts often in online publications. The short travel story that appeared on a website called Travel Intelligence is a beautiful narrative of a warm night spent in Dar es Salaam, in transit from South Africa back to Kenya.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism and the need for ethical reporting and true professionalism have been continuously on the agenda during the week of training.

The website lists the following examples as plagiarism:

Turning in someone else’s work as your own

Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit

Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks

Changing words but copying the sentence structure without giving credit

Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not
The editors in class agreed that the previous examples feel too familiar.

Then how can you avoid plagiarizing? In most cases by citing sources. By simply explaining that a part of the material has been borrowed, and providing your audience the information necessary to find the original source. That’s usually enough to prevent plagiarism.

Plagiarism has never been as easy as it is today. Before the internet, potential plagiarists would have had to go to the library and copy texts from books by hand. But the internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in a few minutes one could find, copy and paste together an entire seminar paper, or a feature story.

But there’s no point in copy-pasting. You just make a much better story by writing in your own style and words. An editor or a teacher should also easily recognize passages that are directly copied, from the vocabulary used.

Journalists in any country caught plagiarizing can get sacked. If you are copying someone else’s story for an article published in your own name, you might also get sued for copyright infringement and be forced to pay heavy compensation. The same goes for publishing a photo without the permission of the copyright owner. In most of the world, the length of the copyright is usually 50 or 70 years after the death of the author. In Tanzania, 50 years.

The recommendation was that all editors would take their time and read the Tanzanian Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act from 1999, found here as a PDF file on a UNESCO web portal where they have collected the copyright laws from most countries.

Here’s another link to a good BBC story about plagiarism, how easy it is, and how easily it can be detected.

Some success stories of citizen journalism

On Friday, the last day of the training, Maggid took over as facilitator for most of the day. He was showing to the participants how he runs his blog and teaching about some of the settings available on Blogger.

He also launched a lively debate about the quality of Tanzanian media reporting taking as an example the case of an elder in Loliondo in Ngorongoro district, Arusha region, who has received huge publicity in the mainstream media for allegedly curing people from HIV and any other diseases by letting them taste a special herbal drink made from the toxic bark of the local mugariga tree, or upas in English.

During the last session, I introduced to the participants some more websites, starting with Huffington Post, which was originally just a personal blog of the American journalist Arianna Huffington. In just a few years Huffington Post has developed to become a prominent online publication with a huge following in the USA. The other week, the site was sold for 315 million dollars to the internet conglomerate AOL.

I also showed two blogs from Iraq which became famous during the war and the early years of the American occupation of the country. The blogs of Salaam Pax and a young Iraqi lady calling herself Riverbend gave readers around the world a direct taste of what life was in the country plagued with military raids, power cuts and water shortages and local extremist militias taking control in the streets.

The neighbouring Kenya has also produced some great examples on how to use a blog for constructive and social purposes, or narrative creativity. For well-known Kenyan blogs, see Kenyan Pundit, Thinker’s Room, or A Kenyan Urban Narrative, a more literary blog maintained by the codename Potashius Nairobus.

AfriGadget is a writers’ collective reporting on local inventions from all parts of Africa, a boat made of plastic bottles, toy vehicles built from recycled trash materials, a porridge cooking robot, or a phone charger using the power from a bicycle’s dynamo.

Mzalendo, a Kenyan Parliament Watch, was a blog launched before the country’s elections in 2007 to report what the Kenyan MP’s were actually doing, and not doing. Readers were invited to send in their contributions for publication.

Then, during the ethnic clashes following the Kenyan elections, the web service Ushahidi was introduced allowing people to send in alerts of unreported attacks and need for assistance. The site was simply using the Google Maps to visualize the killings in Western Kenya and Rift Valley. Later, the Ushahidi platform has been applied also for reporting crime in Atlanta or humanitarian needs after the earthquake in Haiti.

Another eminent example of citizen journalism is the South Korean Ohmy News, an online newspaper where all the stories are produced by ordinary citizens, often the best experts in the affairs of their own geographic locations or interest areas.

Just two examples how the established media has reacted to the challenges of citizen journalism:

BBC was the first big news company to ask their readers to send in their photos for publication. That happened during the London Underground bombings in July 2005. The editors understood that the readers who happened to be at the place of the bombings and were carrying mobile phones with inbuilt cameras were the only potential source to provide pictures from the bombings.

The other example is more like a curiosity on how to attract the interest of younger readers who otherwise would shun away from the mainstream news coverage about political or economic or global topics. The American ICT magazine Wired produced an online game to explain the social and economic backgrounds of the piracy off the coast of Somalia. In the game, the player is running a Somali pirate operation, and really needs strategic thinking to be able to accomplish the mission with profitable results.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

African and international web resources

Here’s a list of some local and international websites we have visited and discussed during the previous days, useful sites not only for journalists but for anyone with the desire to find information. For Tanzanian online media, I will add some links separately to the column on the right side of the page. But here are now the other links.

Tanzania government You can find here some statistical data of the country, national budget and so on, but unfortunately the information is not updated efficiently. For reaching the different ministries, better to go directly to the section National information by topics with the giraffe image surrounded by links.

Bunge, meaning the parliament, has a good site with CV’s of all MP’s and other info. But the same here as with the government website - not updated regularly enough.

Tanzania Online The only functioning Tanzanian web portal, has many links that you might also easily find by googling.

Jamii Forums This is the Tanzanian discussion site, with the slogan: “Where we dare to talk openly.” Here people use to leak out scandalous documents of corruption etc. that maybe wouldn’t be published in the mainstream media. The tenth most visited website in Tanzania, next after BBC.

Reuters Africa Latest news country by country updated constantly when news happen. If things at home are relatively cool, meaning no huge floods or wars or rigged elections, the site might include only week-old business news.

IPS News “Tells the story underneath!” Well written news features from the South produced by journalists from the South. The Kiswahili service you can find here.

Other international Kiswahili language news sites include BBC Swahili, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, with all providing audio clips as well. Content from more than 125 African news organizations. Here you can read papers from Cameroon to Kenya. Of the Tanzanian media houses, The Citizen and Daily News have joined this news portal recently.

Al Jazeera This satellite channel from Doha, Qatar, is today providing probably the best Africa and Middle East reporting of all the big international news channels. The website is beautiful with sharp pictures and often clever stories and commentaries.

Daily Dispatch is a local newspaper published in East London, South Africa. I want to mention it here, because they have very well produced special reports on the website, technically and journalistically world class online media. See for example the investigative report on the murders of local Somalians in the town.

Africa The Good News A website from South Africa trying to counter the Western media stereotypes of AIDS, poverty, tribal feuds and corruption. Right now news about women’s village phone networks in Madagaskar and Malawi and a feature about the benefits of African trade with China.

Awdal News This is a curiosity from Somaliland. Online journalism can be a great media in a country with long distances and lack of paper, as long as wireless connections are there. See also the Somalian news site with more than a hundred links to other Somalian news and other websites.

Pambazuka News Pan-African forum for social justice. Human rights activists and the best intellectuals on the continent are publishing enlightening stories on politics, development and people’s struggles.

African Elections Database Compiled by a chap somewhere out of Africa with numbers of votes, percentages and all other details from every election since colonial times.

African Journals Online On this website updated in South Africa you can browse and read close to 400 different African scientific journals, from the social science journal Africa Development to Zimbabwe Veterinary Journal.

African Literature and Writers on the Internet A web portal hosted by Stanford University in California with hundreds of links to websites on African literature, from sites about Chinua Achebe to Zimbabwe Book Fair.

African Studies Internet Resources Web portal by Columbia University, New York. So many links that you can choose by region, country or topic.

Stories about the minister who plagiarised

As part of our fact-finding and journalistic research assignments on Wednesday, I asked the participants to search for information about the former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (in picture by Bild magazine), who just last week resigned because of revelations that he had been plagiarizing major parts of his university doctorate thesis.

My point was of course to show to the editors that plagiarism is clearly not allowed and copy-pasting usually makes a bad story instead of explaining things in your own words. Part of the job of the editors should be to easily notice and weed out direct copying done by their reporters.

Here’s a link to the story by Edward Kinabo, subeditor of Tanzania Daima. And here’s the text by Deogratias Mushi, features editor at Daily News.

Both also comment on the debate that has followed in Tanzania where people have been surprised to hear that in Europe a minister resigns because of plagiarizing his PhD thesis, while here in Tanzania ministers can still remain in office even after outright corruption charges.

By simply googling for zu guttenberg plagiarism one can easily find several good sources which provide additional information about the extent of the German minister’s plagiarism.

From Wikipedia we can find out that the topic of the thesis was about the development of constitutional law in USA and the European Union.

A BBC report says that more than half of the 475-page thesis had long sections lifted from other people’s work. A passage from a newspaper article was copied word for word without attribution, as well as another paragraph from a US embassy website.

The British Guardian estimates that as much as five percent of the PhD thesis was copied directly from other books and websites without giving credit to the original sources.

The German weekly Der Spiegel published on its website a revealing visualization of the copy-pasting, comparing passages from the thesis to passages from the obvious sources which were never given credit. By dragging a tool on the website, one can see that whole chunks of text have been copied with just one word being modified.

In Germany, a website was created to allow the audience to post their findings of plagiarism in the thesis. At GuttenPlag Wiki you can also find an interesting graphic showing in colours whether a page in the book included plagiarized parts. The black parts in the image below indicate pages that include plagiarism, the red lines stand for pages plagiarizing several different sources, and the white lines are clean. The light blue pages refer to the lists of content and references.

Baron zu Guttenberg’s thesis was previously also available at the Amazon online bookshop, but now it seems to be out of stock.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some pictures from class

Here are some pictures from the last day of the training. Betty Tesha, TBC Taifa, and Editha Majura from Mwananchi sharing a joke with Dar Leo chief editor Imma Mbuguni. Sitting is Andrew Marawiti from MISA-Tanzania.

In a group photo, behind from left Issa Athumani, Revocatus Makaranga, Nonatus Migwano, Anicetus Mwesa, Francis Chirwa, Peik Johansson, Deo Mushi and Imma Mbuguni. In the front, Editha Majura and Betty Tesha.

The training took place in a multimedia hall at Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC) which is part of the Institute of Finance Management in Kivukoni, Dar es Salaam. Photos Maggid Mjengwa.

Blogging on albinos and happy babies

Today we have a guest lecturer in class, as Maggid Mjengwa, Tanzanian blogger and newspaper columnist, has been presenting to us his blog and explaining how he operates it, updating pictures and comments usually several times a day.

Maggid is a long-time friend of mine from Iringa, where he is heading the Tanzania programme of the Swedish NGO, Forum Syd. But he is also a journalist, writing weekly columns to the Raia Mwema newspaper and nowadays also publishing a local newspaper in Njombe district as well as an online publication called Kwanza Jamii. His own blog at is one of the most famous and most visited blogs in Tanzania, giving a sympathetic picture of the lives Tanzanians are living in both the rural areas and in the cities. You’ll see photos of people and peculiar events wherever Maggid moves, telling a story often more worth than thousand words.

These days you can see in his blog pictures from Dar es Salaam. Here’s a woman carrying a heavy load in Morogoro Street, here’s Maggid’s plate of changu and ugali at a restaurant in Kijitonyama, and here are his blogger colleagues of the Full Shangwe news blog with their laptops filling the table space.

Lately, there’s appeared several other interesting blogs in Tanzania, each of them usually focusing on one particular topic.

Daily News journalist Jiang Alipo maintains the Mama na Mwana blog for publishing happy photos of babies and comments about baby care. Tuntufye Abel is hosting a blog on football coaching, with comments and advice. Mzee Mwanakijiji, again, is a Tanzanian living in USA and running a podcast blog with audio recordings, on corruption revelations and other local Tanzanian topics.

Other blogs include the cartoon blog Katuni inasema, Cartoons say it all, by Tanzania Daima cartoonist Said Michael, the fashion blog 8020 Fashions by Darhotwire journalist Shamim Mwasha, and Albinos in Tanzania, a blog reporting on the violence targeting albinos and the general situation of people with albanism in the country.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Searching for facts for better stories

Since yesterday noon we have been concentrating on fact-finding, searching for different facts and backgrounds, starting from very simple facts, names of capitals or presidents of different countries and moving on to finding contacts and checking facts or the spelling of names by the help of the search engine. It was a surprise for most of the participants to find out that Finland has a female president and nowadays also a female prime minister (in picture by YLE).

Finding simple facts was easy, but for contacts there were even difficulties. To find the contacts to a health official in Karagwe district, you should not just google for “the phone number of karagwe district medical officer”. A better option would be to search for “karagwe district” or “karagwe hospital”. If you find your way to the website of a local hospital or the district administration, the phone contacts will most probably also be there.

If you want to call Barack Obama, search for the number from the White House website.

Many people here know that last night Tottenham was playing against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage. Especially for the sports editor in class, we made a search assignment to find out the end result and the goalscorers of the other Champions League match that was played yesterday. For this purpose, the right search words would be “uefa champions league”. On the UEFA website, you will not only find the answers to the assignment, but so much more additional information about the match statistics and the players, among them the Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfán (picture by Reuters), who scored twice for the German team Schalke to beat Valencia 3-1.

Another assignment was to find out the reasons why the German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned last week. But now it’s time for the lunch break, so I will make a new post on that later... Stay tuned...

Murdoch speech to American newspaper editors

This is a second text where I will provide links later, it will be about the comments and links by participants to a speech by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to American newspaper editors.

To be very short, here’s the links to the posts by Francis Chirwa, Revocatus Makaranga and Imma Mbuguni.

Editors comment after the second day

The editors and journalism trainers that are taking part in the training have already been posting lots of texts to their blogs. Here’s a few links to the participants’ reflections on the proceedings from Tuesday.

Issa Athumani, journalism lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), says that “the training is challenging us to think of the growing internet technology and the website use differently as to claim for its advantages and its criticism in our Tanzanian context.”

Imma Mbuguni, chief editor of Dar Leo newspaper, has also written a nice commentary about the first days of the training. “The discussion was more interesting, when we discussed about the survival of print media and how it is being killed by electronic media such as radio, TV, blogs etc and whether the government of Tanzania is killing or promoting the private media in Tanzania.”

For a list of some of the websites we visited on Monday, see the blog of Edward Kinabo, subeditor of Tanzania Daima.

Editha Majura, journalist from Mwananchi, has made a longer report in Kiswahili with reflections on the first days of the training.

“The internet will be my friend throughout the day and almost in my whole life”, is the conclusion of Nonatus Migwano, journalism lecturer at the Royal College of Tanzania.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tanzanian media is online but not yet popular

Since yesterday, we have covered several topics, as you will also see from the blogs of the participants. You can now find the links in the column on the right.

We went briefly through the history of internet, from an American military project in late 1960’s to a networking tool of American universities, and even more importantly, the launching of the World Wide Web in Switzerland in 1991 by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee.

We discussed the business concerns of especially print media, when the younger generations spend more time in the internet and also search for their news there instead of reading the print newspapers. If the circulations fall, it means decreasing income from advertisements. Everywhere one obvious solution has
been to focus more on the online edition by adding quality. In Britain, the famous newspaper Telegraph put its eggs in two baskets. The newspaper decided to invest heavily in the journalistic content online but also into online retail business, trading kitchenware, fashion and garden furniture, which nowadays brings in 30 percent of the company’s income. (In the picture, a garden chair for sale on the Telegraph shopping site. The price is 180 UK pounds, about 450,000 shillings!)

This morning we visited practically all Tanzanian online media. The whole mainstream media is today online, but the discussion with the editors revealed that very few of them use to visit other Tanzanian media online. They stick to the traditional way, reading the print copies and watching the TV. One of the editors even suggested that the online media is mostly targeted for Tanzanians living abroad.

No wonder that the local media doesn’t appear very high in the statistics of the most visited websites in Tanzania. BBC and CNN are among the Top 20, and the most popular media local media website is, maybe a bit surprisingly, Global Publishers, the media house selling sensational tabloid papers such as Uwazi, Amani and Ijumaa. They are in position 28, followed by the popular blog of photojournalist Issa Michuzi. Far behind come the online editions of The Citizen (70th), Daily News (80th) and IPP Media (90th).

These positions might improve in coming years, but probably not much if the network does’t become faster to make reading easier and if the media practitioners don’t develop their online content more, in order to attract readers.

For comparison, the discussion site Jamii Forums was the tenth most popular website on the list.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Websites that have changed the world

We are in the middle of the second day of the internet training and have had quite a lively debate on several issues, from the statistics showing Tanzania having six times less internet users than neighbouring Kenya, to the general problems facing the print media in the country.

Everyone probably agreed with Deo Mushi, features editor of Daily News, that professionalism is the only way for a newspaper to survive and attract readers who will buy the paper. The local weekly papers Mwanahalisi and Raia Mwema were mentioned as such good examples.

We are still covering some of the websites that have changed the world and the way we operate in it, from the online bookshop Amazon to Facebook and Wikileaks. We visited the Twitter sites of Barack Obama and the ANC Youth leader Julius Malema of South Africa. We also spent some time going through the different search features of the Google, finding the map and satellite picture of Bukoba town, making a Google news search on Muammar Gaddafi in order to find the latest information about him from media sites only, and reading Kiswahili Google translations of articles originally written in Finnish language - totally understandable though done by a computer system.

Now it’s lunch break, with wali kuku and fresh salad.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tovuti training in a cool classroom

This is my first posting from a one-week training course for Tanzanian editors and journalism lecturers in the use of internet, tovuti in Kiswahili, for fact-finding, news monitoring, communication and publication.

It is already the eighth such internet training event for Tanzanian journalists, part of a training programme launched in 2008 and organized jointly by MISA-Tanzania and VIKES Foundation, a solidarity organization of journalist associations in Finland, with support from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

In the streets of Dar es Salaam it’s sweating hot today, but we have spent the entire working day in the intensively air-conditioned multimedia room of the Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre, located at the Institute of Finance Management, the leading business school in the country.

During the first day, we have had ten participants in class, mostly editors and other senior journalists from the national mainstream newspapers, but there’s also a radio producer from the government radio channel TBC and two lecturers from local journalism schools.

The speed of the network was a bit slow today due to a video conference taking place elsewhere in the same building, so we didn’t really manage to cover everything that was on the agenda. But at least we got started, learned to know each others, voiced our expectations, and visited a number of websites that have in one way or another changed the world in the quite recent era of internet.

We have seen what Americans buy from eBay and watched an already classic YouTube video on how to make popcorn with mobile phones. We edited the section about Tanzanian ethnic groups in the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, and also did an exercise on how to buy a train ticket in Finland from my hometown Helsinki to Turku.

The last one was to show how people in the so called developed countries use many services through the internet.

At the end of the day, the participants opened their own blogs. I will provide links later.