Zanzibar is a tourist's paradise with its sandy beaches and dazzling waters. But project manager Jasper Funck says this is just one facet of the island and it hardly reflects the challenges - especially for the media.
This East African island is semi-autonomous from Tanzania. DW Akademie project manager Jasper Funck has been working there since February and says the media project aims to support television and radio "in producing reports that contribute more intensely to a democratic dialogue between various sections of the population."
Despite the island's diverse media landscape, professional journalism standards are low. Funck quickly summarizes the challenges facing media workers. "They need to ask more critical questions and definitely verify the information they get." He says existing work procedures and structures also need to be reviewed and for new approaches to be tried out.
A great need for training
Funck works as a trainer and consultant with the state Zanzibar Broadcasting Cooperation as well as with the Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission. He conducts workshops for radio and TV professionals that focus on journalism skills and technical aspects. He also teaches at a journalism school and enjoys the discussions with budding journalists. "My approach is interactive," he says, "and that's new for them."
Zanzibar's media landscape is still influenced by state control and local power holders. Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission (ZBC) is therefore building on DW Akademie's support for establishing a public broadcasting system. ZBC's management is also benefiting from DW Akademie's tailor-made consultations that focus on management aspects, strategy and human resource development. "The overall goal," Funck points out, "is for the broadcaster to become politically and financially independent."
Gaining trust takes time
Working with Zanzibar's media professionals is not always easy, but DW Akademie has long been present on the island. "That's why we have a good relationship with our partners," says Funck, adding that this is a prerequisite for determining the project's success.
Funck admits to initially having to be patient. "It took a while before I was allowed to take part in the broadcaster’s meetings. That's just one example but it shows that gaining trust can take time." Still, he knows that his patience is paying off. "I can see that by the type of questions they ask."
One project goal has already been reached, says Funck. "This desire for change isn't coming from outside - it's coming from the broadcasting staff themselves and from the broadcasting commission."
Jasper Funck has worked for DW Akademie since 2001. Over the last few years he has become more involved in projects for Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Libya. Zanzibar is also primarily Islamic and Funck's previous experiences are a clear asset.