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2015-01_dc

22 D+C Vol.42.2015:1 Almost 20 years ago, I used to work in Wind- hoek as an instructor and consultant for the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). It was shortly after the country became independent and apartheid ended. With international assistance, the former regime’s state broadcasting service was now supposed to become a public broadcaster for a demo- cratic nation. The old propagandists were to be re- placed by new editorial and administrative staff. The NBC management called in consultants to help make the necessary changes. It sent editorial staff and heads of departments to Europe and North America to receive additional professional training. Moreover, do- nor agencies held media workshops in Windhoek, the capital, and even at the NBC offices. The hope was that the young black journalists would acquire new skills and fresh insights. Bit by bit, a democratic and inde- pendent media landscape was supposed to emerge. The big question The training programmes were popular with the jour- nalists. Sometimes, the newsroom was so short- staffed that broadcasting operations seemed at risk. At first, I thought that this was something we had to accept in the short term in order to get the results we were hoping for. After a while, however, I saw that I had been wrong. The journalists would proudly re- turn to their desks and show off their training certifi- cates, but the quality of their work did not get signifi- cantly better. News reports often were just as sloppy and full of mistakes as before. But why? This important question still preoccupies me. After all, a lot of money is being spent to train jour­ nalists from developing countries in international seminars and workshops. And just like in Namibia 20 years ago, there are reasons for results often re- maining unconvincing: Some training programmes are plainly not good. Sometimes journalists are sent to seminars on top- ics that have little to do with their daily work. Sometimes the participants are not interested in what is being taught at all; they just want to get away from the daily grind and collect per-diem allowances. All too often, however, journalists return from their training with great motivation, only to be thwarted by higher-ranking colleagues, who – because of hab- it, political considerations or other reasons – do not allow them to implement new ideas. The latter experience is the more likely the less a training course is designed to make a lasting impact. E-learning offers new ways to rise to this challenge. This opportunity is not being grasped nearly enough. Generally speaking, training providers pay too little attention to what impact their courses have. In their eyes, a course was successful if the participants’ feedback was positive at the end. At that point, they consider a programme completed. The organisers leave the task of modernising daily work routines at home institutions and applying newly-acquired skills entirely to the course participants. This is actually Online follow-up Professional training courses that are run by development agencies often do not have a lasting impact on journalists’ everyday work. Most seminars are too short to turn new insights and skills into routines. Organisers could use e-learning to continue cooperation between instructors and participants once a face-to-face seminar has ended. By Werner Eggert It makes sense to research information strategically – at- tending a conference in Accra in 2008. Dembowski

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