05 December 2010 – Journalists from various media houses in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and Malakal, Upper Nile State, attended a one-day media training on fair, accurate, impartial reporting that defends public interest today and on 2 December.
Participants discussed the Referendum Act, the role of media and reporting code of conduct during the trainings organized by UNMIS. The syllabus also included human rights issues that may arise during the 2011 referendum process, and journalists raised difficulties they had encountered while reporting on the referendum.
One of the most important outcomes of the training was that it familiarized participants with the referendum law, Al-ray Alaam newspaper journalist Omzein Adam said in Khartoum.
"We also discussed how the media should deal with the referendum ... to stay professional and not mix personal feelings and objective facts," Ms. Adam said, adding that media were also responsible to inform citizens about impacts of their vote in Southern Sudan's self-determination referendum.
The training placed emphasis on conveying information that depicts the reality on the ground accurately in order to avoid misinformation and distortion of facts.
"I now clearly understand my responsibility towards my audience," said John Amum Kak, who works with the newly established Malakal radio station Sout El Mohabba FM. "I will provide them with accurate, fair and impartial news to make sure the information I send out does not affect the public interest in any way."
Addressing the training participants in Malakal, UNMIS Sector Coordinator Hendrik Brun said the training was expected to contribute to journalists' knowledge about safeguarding public integrity and expressed hope that participants would "make the referendum safe from hate speeches at this crucial moment of Sudan's history".
The Khartoum referendum coverage training was the third, following those carried out in Malakal and Juba by UNMIS to prepare journalists ahead of the referendum exercise expected to commence on 9 January, 2011.