″My inspiration is serving the audience″ | Media Development | DW | 03.05.2018
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Media Development

"My inspiration is serving the audience"

Rosa Jalja has been working in radio for 46 years. She is editor-in-chief of "Radio Copacabana", which is part of Bolivia's Aymara radio network, supported by Fundación UNIR.

Rosa Jalja in the studio. The head of Radio Copacabana has been working as a journalist for 46 years. (DW)

Rosa Jalja in the studio. The head of "Radio Copacabana" has been working as a journalist for 46 years.

For the past 46 years, Rosa Jalja has been working in radio on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world. She runs Radio Copacabana, one of the six stations that belong to the Aymara radio network, which is supported by Fundación UNIR. DW Akademie helps Fundación UNIR by teaching journalists. Their aim is to get citizens involved and create new broadcasting formats to give exposure to the needs of the local communities. Rosa Jalja's radio station broadcasts in Aymara, the language spoken by her ethnic group.

In an interview with DW Akademie, Rosa Jalja talks about her commitment to media freedom.

Ms. Jalja, how do you contribute to media freedom at Radio Copacabana?

"When I was 17 years old, I started working at Radio San Gabriel, which broadcast in Aymara for farmers and got citizens involved. That was 46 years ago. The most important thing today is that we still broadcast in Aymara. There are still fellow citizens who can neither read nor write. Radio is the most important source of information for them."

What does freedom of press mean to you?

"There must be no prejudice. As Aymara journalists, we are on the side of the listener, the population. Thanks to Fundación UNIR, we have learned that journalists must be able to report in safety. That is freedom. They must have their own convictions and tell the whole truth. For me, freedom of press means that the journalists can pass on their information freely."

Radio Copacabana broadcasts in Spanish and Aymara. (DW)

"Radio Copacabana" broadcasts in Spanish and Aymara.

Can you describe your work?

"Sixty percent of the programs on Radio Copacabana consist of information and news. We often do reports directly from the town hall for the 18,000 inhabitants of Copacabana. Together with Fundación UNIR, we also offer training programs for young journalists from rural communities. We also want put more women in senior positions. To do so, we trained 32 women to work with cameras and write scripts. Now they work for major media companies in the capital, La Paz. It is also a journalist's job to fight for equal rights for women."

Rosa Jalja's home is Lake Titicaca. (DW)

Rosa Jalja's home is Lake Titicaca.

What inspires you the most?

"My inspiration is serving the audience. People without a radio aren't alive. With radio, we reach the people on farms, in offices, in homes and in shops. That is why we broadcast programs in Aymara and Spanish. Creating justice inspires me. Before the early 1980s, the indigenous population faced a great deal of injustice from the military state, and also had to cope with several coups d'états and changing governments. These dark chapters of our history have motivated me to inform people. Back then, nobody reported on how many people were killed and how many people were imprisoned. Now that has changed; the radio station is a community radio station and we now work freely."

Which story impressed you the most?

"The questioning of victims in the 1980s during the coup d'état. The dead, the wounded and the missing were farmers. I had to report on people who came to pick up dead family members. I'll never forget that."

Rodrigo Villarzú, Head of the Latin America Department at the DW Akademie, visiting Rosa Jalja in her radio studio. (DW)

Rodrigo Villarzú, Head of the Latin America Department at the DW Akademie, visiting Rosa Jalja in her radio studio.

And what is one of your fondest memories?

"The public dialogues we organized together with Fundación UNIR, for example, on youth rights or water supply. They were part of a serious of dialogue events that made a public debate possible - and they were broadcast live on radio. Copacabana demanded drinking water. We sensitized politicians responsible for this situation and now, all homes will have running water starting September 2018. This motivates us. As a radio station, we influence government offices by reporting on issues."

What are your plans for the future?

"I will continue learning. I have also traveled abroad. Now I want to make a film about an indigenous woman farmer. I would like try new formats. I'm over 60 but I'm still going strong."

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