Community media gives rural populations a voice. To help develop and professionalize Kyrgyzstan's community media sector, DW Akademie is supporting a new umbrella association.
Community media plays a decisive role in Kyrgyzstan because it is often the only source of information for people living in remote areas. "Many of the villages are surrounded by mountains which block the signals of the national broadcasters," says Lydia Rahnert, DW Akademie Country Coordinator for Kyrgyzstan, adding that it can take up to two weeks for newspapers to arrive.
"As such, it's very important to strengthen community media," she says. In order to better exchange experiences and coordinate projects, as well as increase the quality of their programming, a group of Kyrgyz community media organizations established an umbrella association in August 2013.
At their first meeting in the country's capital Bishkek, representatives from the four radio stations and 18 multimedia centers adopted a statute governing the body's activities, a code of ethics, and an agreement on joint programming goals.
These goals include the production of a week of special programming on "Access to clean water" as well as comprehensive reporting on municipal politics, education, poverty and women's and youth issues. The media representatives, who came from seven regions, also agreed to offer more interactive formats allowing for community input. The umbrella association is supported by DW Akademie, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and UNESCO.
Professional reporting and economic sustainability
DW Akademie will continue its support of the umbrella association over the coming months by holding workshops for journalists working for member organizations. The focus will be on critical and independent reporting.
DW Akademie will also provide managers with coaching on how to make their organization more financially secure in the long-term.
"Trainers from Germany, as well as Kyrgyz trainers who have been trained by DW Akademie, will accompany community media journalists in the development of programs and the creation of new formats," says Rahnert.
DW Akademie will also equip six newly registered multimedia centers in remote areas, enabling them to start activities.