A sustained focus on engaging mainstream media organisations is yielding positive results for the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) programme in Ghana. More than 150 stories about the programme were published in print and on online news channels, as well as on radio and television in 2016 and 2017. This extensive coverage is generating public debate about important social and economic issues that are part of our advocacy agenda, and is also helping to hold leaders and other stakeholders accountable.
According to V4CP Manager Eric Banye, a key thrust of the media engagement strategy is to build a close relationship with influential media organisations so as to enhance their awareness of issues at the heart of the programme’s advocacy efforts. A related, and equally important objective, is to connect the media to the programme’s civil society organisation (CSO) partners, so as to increase the relevance of the media’s coverage in terms of “real” issues and challenges on the ground with respect to the three V4CP thematic areas: food and nutrition security, renewable energy, and water, sanitation and health (WASH). By bringing these issues to the public domain, the programme ultimately aims to increase public awareness, galvanise public support, increase collaboration, and generate political interest for improved service provision.
Banye explains that the decision to adopt a proactive approach to the media was based on the observation that “the voice of the CSOs and the voices of stakeholders need to be made many times louder and more convincing through media attention.” At the heart of the strategy is the provision of capacity building support for both journalists and CSO partner organisations so they can better articulate issues linked to V4CP themes, and to publish stories that will be understood by all stakeholders including the general public.
"The SNV training programme organised for media professionals has helped build my capacity in news reporting in areas such as energy, WASH, agriculture, food and nutrition. Indeed, it has empowered me to become more vibrant in article and feature writing and straight news reportage. To SNV, I say many thanks for impacting positively on my profession".
Iddi Yire, Editor, Ghana News Agency
The V4CP programme engaged the services of a media company, Trans-Media Network, to develop and manage the media engagement strategy and enhance the programme’ understanding of how to effectively work with the media to attain advocacy results. So far, two media training sessions have been organised, bringing together 30 selected media practitioners across the country to expose them to the activities of the CSOs. The training has also enhanced the media’s understanding of the three thematic areas covered by the V4CP and helped provide platforms for the media to engage directly with CSOs so that they can actively work on these issues together.
This platform not only provided networking relationship building, and training between the media and CSOs but also created an opportunity for the 12 partner CSOs to continue to engage with the media in future events related to project activities and outcomes.
Engaging policy makers and other stakeholders
The direct links created between the media and CSOs are helping to change the mainstream media’s attitude to issues that are normally considered as not being interesting or newsworthy. With each trained journalist publishing at least three articles on V4CP-related initiatives and advocacy topics, the extensive coverage is helping diverse stakeholders to tell stories in their own words. As they become more aware of challenges on the ground, journalists are increasingly calling on local leaders to explain why basic services have not been provided. They are also addressing policy makers more directly, asking for clarification on existing policies as well as new policy developments in the three V4CP thematic areas and how they are being implemented. This increased engagement with policy makers is an essential component of the V4CP programme’s approach. By building the capacity of CSOs and the media to hold public officials and other stakeholders accountable, we hope to create an enabling environment in which government and the private sector provide high quality and affordable services for some of the most marginalised groups in society.
For an overview of some of the media articles published so far, please click here.
V4CP’s focus on media engagement is paying off in Ghana