During his trip to Latin America, the German Minister for Development, Dirk Niebel, visited a DW Akademie project in Colombia and presented a participant with an award for outstanding local journalism.
Yamile was only 12 years old when the paramilitary kidnapped her mother. A short time later her father was shot down on the street. That was 10 years ago. Today, although the perpetrators are known, they have never been arrested. And this is no exception in Colombia. What is exception, though, is that the media have reported on this case. Because reporting on crimes like this puts journalists and witnesses at considerable risk.
The journalist, Yesenia Bayona, took this risk. And with her video report on Yamile's story, she won the "Caminos de la Paz" ("Paths Toward Freedom") competition, held by DW Akademie and the Colombian Universidad del Norte. With tears in her eyes, the local journalist from Yopal - in the conflict-ravaged region of Casanare - accepted the award from the German Development Minister, Dirk Niebel. He had traveled to Colombia to get a clear impression of media development projects being conducted there.
Niebel emphasized the importance of free media, and the important role DW Akademie plays in Colombia in this regard. "Today anyone can publish what he or she wants to on the Internet," the minister said. "That makes it all the more important for journalists to be well trained in their field."
To mark the Minister's visit, local Colombian stations taking part in a long-term DW Akademie project presented a new Internet platform (www.rednoticiastv.org). This now enables them to exchange broadcast quality TV reports - such as Yesenia Bayona's story - with each other. "The new Internet platform is an important tool for local stations," says project manager, Matthias Kopp. "With this, journalists working in isolated areas with limited means and often under dangerous conditions, can support each other."