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The Journalism and Mass Communication University's new studio, a DW Akademie project, is the first hands-on training facility in the country, and a step toward press freedom in Uzbekistan.
On September 8, a new radio studio in Tashkent officially opened its doors to visitors from Uzbekistan and abroad. Already in use, the studio is designed to train a new generation of journalists in a country that lacks practical learning sites for up-and-coming reporters. The studio is Uzbekistan's first hands-on training facility and is part of the Journalism and Mass Communications University of Uzbekistan (UJMC).
"TV and radio are the most desirable disciplines at our university and this makes the studio extremely attractive for students," said Nozima Muratova, UJMC's Deputy Rector of Science and Innovations.
The studio offers practical skills for aspiring radio journalists as well as for those wanting to work with multimedia platforms that use audio.
"Students can learn crucial multimedia skills in this studio," said lecturer Ulzhamol Khanaeva. "When it was launched, students initiated online broadcasting for the entire university via messenger services and social media."
The opportunities it provides are especially important for Uzbekistan, whose centers for media training were practically nonexistent before the UJMC was launched in 2018.
Given the country's tenuous relationship with press freedom, expanding media training facilities is key to helping establish a free, independent press there. In Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index 2022, Uzbekistan was ranked 133 out of 180 countries. Although its ranking has improved compared to previous years (ranked 157 in 2021), the country is still far from touting a robust media landscape.
Radio still plays an important role in this Central Asian country. Although over the last three decades, radio stations once spanning the entire country have largely disappeared.
Lydia Rahnert, DW Akademie's program director for Central Asia, explained that a DW Akademie goal in the country is to rebuild communications networks to connect remote communities.
"Thanks to the radio studio, UJMC can train young people for the stations that already exist and for those that will be added," she said. "This will give people in the countryside a voice and contribute to freedom of expression in Uzbekistan."
Both Rahnert and DW Akademie Managing Director Carsten von Nahmen attended the opening ceremony, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Managing Director Carsten von Nahmen (left) and Rector Sherzod Kudratkhodjaev of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Uzbekistan celebrate the opening of the radio studio
Uzbekistan is a new focus country for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The ministry is also supporting other projects in this Central Asian republic. In addition to providing facilities and teacher training at UJMC, DW Akademie is in partnership with the local Uzbek organization Modern Journalism Development Center. The center is working on creating new media training programs and establishing three community media hubs in the country.
DW Akademie's focus in Central Asia is on strengthening community media, facilitating Media and Informational Literacy (MIL) skills among youth and offering capacity-building in media management and journalism.
DW Akademie's projects in Uzbekistan are supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).