Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ghanaian Journalists Receive Training on Oil and Gas Reporting

Beginning today, Tuesday June 25, 2013, 10 selected Ghanaian journalists from across the country will be taken through an intensive six months training to effectively report on Ghana’s burgeoning oil and gas sector revenues and resources. This  training forms part of the “Empowering the Media to Play an Active Watchdog Role over Ghana’s Oil and Gas Revenue and Resources” project being undertaken  the International Institute of ICT Journalism ( Penplusbytes) with funding and technical support from STAR-Ghana.

The project aims to improve coverage of oil and gas stories by the Ghanaian media leading to an increase in the quantity and quality (in terms of in-depth and investigative reporting) of oil and gas stories thus leading to the media playing an effective watchdog role over Ghana’s Oil and Gas revenues and resources.

The focus of the training workshop is learning through doing with skills modules which will offer reporting & writing tips. The training will be an interactive one which will involve reviews and assistance offered to trainees as they produce stories and explore the issues involved in reporting on the extractive sector to better educate the general public and provide CSOs and parliament with the necessary information to effectively hold government accountable over the oil gas revenues and resources.

Jeremiah Sam, Projects director of Penplusbytes said “at the end of the course, journalists will gain more knowledge about the country’s oil and gas sector, improve their news gathering skills and be equipped with the ability to analyze and interpret data from the sector. The course will also enable the participating journalists have a better understanding of the legal and policy framework governing the sector so that they are able to better inform the citizens and ensure good governance over the sector. 

Albert Futukpor, a one of the selected journalists from the Ghana News Agency (GNA) based in Tamale says “this is a brilliant opportunity for me to upgrade my knowledge on the sector and to be able to write in-depth stories that will go a long way to inform citizens on the sector. It will also afford me a chance to gain actual knowledge on operations in the sector.”

Apart from this training workshop, Penplusbytes has carried out a baseline research to establish the nature of reporting and writing by the Ghanaian media on the sector. Future activities planned include a field trip to the home of Ghana’s oil in the Western region where journalist will have a firsthand experience of oil production. Penplusbytes will also organize forums across the country where topical oil and gas issues will be discussed and finally, the organisation will deploy a vibrant oil and gas website which will serve as a platform for CSOs and journalists to engage each other and also exchange knowledge and information on the extractive sector for better advocacy on Ghana’s oil and gas resources and revenues.

Editor’s Note
PENPLUSBYTES www.penplusbytes.org is a registered not for profit since 18th July 2001 with the vision of driving excellence in ICT journalism. www.reportingoilandgas.org is a project of Penplusbytes.
STAR-Ghana www.starghana.org
STAR-Ghana is a multi- donor pooled funding mechanism (Funded by DFID, DANIDA, EU and USAID) to increase the influence of civil society and Parliament in the governance of public goods and service delivery, with the ultimate goal of improving the accountability and responsiveness of Ghana's government, traditional authorities and the private sector.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Penplusbytes/Voto Carry Out Survey on Utility Supply in Ghana

Ghanaians suffer the impact of many utility challenges; from water outages, lights out, and fuel shortages. On March 6th, President John Dramani Mahama said in a speech in Accra that the country is 'burdened with a major energy and water crisis'. Among the effects of the fuel subsidy phase-out, electrical grid load shedding, and persistent water access challenges, the business and daily lives of Ghanaians have been frequently inconvenienced or even threatened.

In spite of the immediate causes and effects of these issues well-reported by the media, a direct and holistic appraisal of the situation on a national level had not been undertaken. To fill this gap in information, Penplusbytes in partnership with research provider VOTO Mobile undertook a national survey. Surveys sent to mobile phones in five local languages were used to provide an insight into how the recent energy and water challenges have affected Ghanaians in all regions of the country including rural areas.

The study highlighted a few areas of concern that the government can take action on. In general, electricity shortages were named as the biggest issue – 188, representing 39% of 362 total respondents chose it as their main concern. People in cities were significantly more likely to say that fuel prices were their biggest issue. For both cities and rural areas, transportation costs were affected most by the fuel price hike. In rural communities general costs of living were affected just as much as transportation, which was not the case in cities.

Robert Reid, a research fellow at VOTO, adds that trends inequalities were also seen in the data for water: “Citizens in the rural areas were more likely to say the water shortages made living difficult. This was found despite similar reported frequencies of water outage, a consequence of different lifestyles between rural areas and urban communities.” Despite some differences, rural and urban respondents agreed that predictable water and electricity outages would help them manage their homes and businesses, with 73% agreeing.

On his part Jerry Sam from Penplusbytes said “despite government’s stated interventions to reduce the adverse impact of the fuel crisis, almost all the 187 people responding were generally unaware of the actions the government was taking. When asked about the size of the fuel subsidy, only 27 representing 14% of the total respondents reported the correct answer of 1% of the national budget. Despite this lack of knowledge, 117, representing 63%, reported faith in the government’s ability to resolve the issue in the near future”.

The research was intended to measure the impact of the ongoing load-shedding exercise and general water supply in the country using an interactive voice response system developed for mobile phones. The IVR was developed in five major languages spoken in Ghana (Ga, Ewe, Twi, English and Dagbani) in order to get Ghanaians from all social groups have their views expressed.

Editor's Note:
Penplusbytes is a registered not for profit organization since 18th July 2001 with the vision of driving excellence in ICT journalism.

VOTO http://www.votomobile.org/
Seeks to amplify the voice of the under-heard. Using SMS or voice services in local languages, our innovative notification and survey platforms are improving communication between African citizens and the governments, aid organizations, and businesses that serve them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Penplusbytes Shares Knowledge and Information with USAID Staff

Team members of International Institute of ICT journalism, Penplusbytes joined a group of technical, program and financial management staff from the USAID missions for a briefing on “the role of journalists in enhancing transparency and accountability in governance and the private sector” during a five-day training program in Accra.

This meeting was meant to afford USAID staff the opportunity to learn more about Penplusbytes’ effort in promoting transparency and accountability in governance through the use of ICTs and citizen engagement. The team explained how Penplusbytes through its African Elections Project covers elections in Africa by training journalists and citizen journalists to effectively use ICTs, SMS and mobile apps to cover and report on the electoral process.

Headed by a director from Penplusbytes Kofi Mangesi, the team also shared its experience on training journalists to play a watchdog role on the extractives (oil, gas and mining) revenues and resources in Ghana, Uganda and now Tanzania, adding that the program enhances the capacity of young journalists to produce in-depth investigative stories in the media, thereby increasing the quality and quantity of stories in the sector and thereby ensuring good governance in the extractives.

Jerry Sam from Penplusbytes also explained how the organisation uses ICT tools, mobile applications, SMS and community radio outreach programmes to inform and educate citizens at the grassroots about elected government’s manifestoes and also district assembly development plans so that they are able to track budgets and promises to effectively hold officials to account and ensure transparency in government expenditure at the district level.

The 5-day training which was on strengthening public financial management and public accountability and brought together USAID officials from USAID/Ghana and USAID/West Africa missions,  as well as from other countries in Africa and Central Asia and it took place at the Fiesta Royale Hotel in Accra

Friday, June 14, 2013

2014 Deutsche Welle International Traineeship for Young Journalists

 Applications are invited from young journalists around the world for 2014 Deutsche Welle international traineeship programme. The international traineeship is specially designed for young journalists from the regions to which Deutsche Welle broadcasts.

Deutsche Welle trains its own young journalists for its programming in 30 languages. Every year, a decision is reached on which programs need new young journalists. Next International Traineeship will start May 2014.

Worth of Awards

Successful applicants will be communicated.


  • Unusual linguistic abilities are the most important requirement for the international traineeship.
  • At least one of following native languages is required for the training program starting in May 2014: Arabic, Bengali, English, Hausa, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese (for Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu.
  • Languages: The applicant must be a "native speaker" in one of Deutsche Welle's broadcast languages. They must have such a command of this language that they can carry out journalistic tasks confidently and competently. A very good working knowledge of German is also required, with the following certification: Goethe-Zertifikat B2 or TestDaf level TDN3 or DSH1. Prior notification will be provided as to which native languages are required for the training program.
  •  Qualifications: University degree or vocational training or comparable qualification through training and professional experience. German language certification Goethe-Zertifikat B2 or TestDaf level TDN3 or DSH1.
  •  Practical Experience: Practical experience working as a journalist, freelance work, etc.

How to Apply

  • All applications must be made online and within the given timeframe.
  • They will be accepting applications for the 2014 international traineeship starting May 1, 2013.
  • We do not accept applications sent by mail.

Deadline: The deadline is June 30, 2013.

Click here for details and to apply online 

for more info visit  http://scholarshubafrica.com/4436/2014-deutsche-welle-international-traineeship-young-journalists/

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How journalists can keep their mobile phones secure

Mobile phones are becoming an essential tool for journalists, who use them for interviews, contacting editors and sources, taking photographs and storing important files related to their stories. The devices' small size, light weight, power and flexibility mean that they rival desktop or laptop computers in utility.

But the features that make a reporter's phone such a useful tool can also make it an attractive target to governments, hackers and criminals.

Reporters, especially those working in high-risk areas or in repressive environments under corrupt leaders, must take precautions to prevent spying as well as the loss and theft of their devices.

When someone steals or spies on a journalist's mobile equipment, he or she is likely to gain access to the entire portfolio of the reporter's sources. In professional terms, this is bad news. Many reporters agree to protect the anonymity of their sources and do not reveal their identity in the stories they publish. But that promise cannot be kept if the reporter loses control of his or her mobile device.

That loss can also jeopardize family security if, for some reason, the journalist uses and stores personal information, pictures of their friends and relatives or holds conversations with them via text message.

All journalists should take several precautions related to their mobile phones:

Minimize the damage that can occur in case of theft or loss.

Keep track of and carefully control any information you use on mobile equipment. Avoid uploading confidential information on a phone that is at constant risk of theft or robbery.

Some journalists who travel in regions frequented by the military, police, insurgent groups or criminal gangs should take extra care to keep phones "clean" and devoid of sensitive files. They should also consider using separate phones for personal and professional use.

Other journalists must simply protect their phones with security measures such as a personal identification number or pattern for starting the phone. Here is a tutorial to teach you how:

In the Security in a Box guide, you will find good advice for encrypting your phone and adding measures to protect privacy.

Protect yourself from spying.

Those who want to pry into what a journalist has on his or her phone don't need to actually steal the device. Electronic data theft is now one of the biggest risks facing journalists. Consider encrypting your device if you can. If you use an Android device that uses a newer Gingerbread operating system (OS 2, 3, 4 or newer), your phone can be completely encrypted. This article gives good recommendations on how and why to encrypt a phone.

Abaigeal Quinn wrote about signs your cell phone is being monitored. Among the signs:

  • A significant drop in the volume of calls you receive, or if you have trouble dialing numbers.
  • The battery runs out more quickly than normal.
  • Your phone is hot even if you haven't been using it.
  • You hold your phone to a speaker and the brief, sharp sound you hear lasts for several seconds.
  • The phone turned on when not in use
  • The phone makes unusual noises when you use it.

Here are some additional resources and tools for protecting your privacy:

For Android OS devices: Orbot: Connect the mobile device to a proxy server that hides the device's IP.

Orweb: Browser that connected to Orbot, allows anonymous Internet surfing.

Gibberbot: Encrypts the content of instant messages.

For iPhone and iPad Devices:

Covert Browser: Available in Apple's iTunes Store, this app lets you surf anonymously on your phone.

ChatSecure: An application that lets Apple users chat in encrypted form.

source : http://ijnet.org/blog/how-journalists-can-keep-their-mobile-phones-secure

International Institute for ICT Journalism

STAR-Ghana Holds Results Reporting Workshop for Penplusbytes and Other Oil and Gas Grantees

STAR-Ghana, a multi- donor pooled funding mechanism (Funded by DFID, DANIDA, EU and USAID), on 11th and 12th June organized a training workshop on how to report on results and Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) for its Grant Partners (GP) working in promoting transparency and accountability in Ghana’s oil and gas sector.

The two-day interactive workshop, held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra, took grant partners through the different stages of project implementation and also best practices to adopt to ensure proposed projects make the right impact and achieve the desired outcomes for the benefit of citizens and also contribute to national development. The STAR-Ghana team who also served as workshop consultants explained how to ensure project activities conform to Value For Money standards, on how to report on results and Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI).

Wendy Otu, Programs Officer at STAR-Ghana in her presentation stated that “results-based management focuses on accomplishments of projects. Accountability and transparency has now become an important assessment tool for donor countries; this therefore means that reporting on activities is no longer enough. The focus now is on the impact the project has on its beneficiaries.”

Penplusbytes in January this year, together with seventeen other Grant Partners received funding from STAR-Ghana. Penplusbytes is currently implementing its project  “Empowering the media to play an active role over oil and gas revenue and resources”, and has already carried out a baseline survey to ascertain the quantity and quality of oil and gas reporting by the Ghanaian media and the organisation is currently building the capacity of 10 Ghanaian journalists selected from across the country to specialize in reporting on oil and gas and the extractive sector leading to an improvement in the coverage of oil and gas to better inform citizens and CSOs to better hold government accountable and promote good governance in the sector.

Penplusbytes will also facilitate both online and offline knowledge exchange between the media and CSOs on key oil and gas revenue and resource issues leading to better access to relevant information and also contributing to effective watch-dog role over the oil and gas revenue and resource management.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Penplusbytes Takes NYU Graduate Students Through ICTs and Citizen Engagement

Penplusbytes, a leader in promoting the use of ICTs to enhance the work of journalists and citizen journalists, hosted a group of graduate students from the New York University (NYU), who are interested in how the organisation uses ICT tools to empower citizens to participate in issues of governance and also engage with public officials.

The group who paid the learning visit to the offices of Penplusbytes on Thursday 6th June, was from the Center for Global Affairs of the New York University and headed by Barbara Borst, an Adjunct Associate Professor from the center. They are in Ghana to study different aspects of the country’s development with particular interest in democracy and governance and the influence of ICT in Ghana’s development.

The group was received by Jerry Sam, Projects Director at Penplusbytes and he took them through Penplusbytes’ flagship African Elections Project which has covered 12 elections in Africa. He explained how journalists are trained in the use of ICTs for elections coverage and also how the organisation has over the years developed mobile applications, ICT tools and online platforms that have encouraged and enabled citizen interactions and involvement in the electoral process and post- elections transparency and accountability of elected officials on the continent.

Jane Mcclenahan, an MS candidate in Global Affairs at the NYU expressed appreciation to team Penplusbytes saying that, “I am grateful for this opportunity to learn more about the use of ICTs in Ghana and Africa’s democratic process through Penplusbytes, and I have gained insights into how ICTs have enabled citizen participation in the governance process.” She added that she will share with others what she learnt and hopes it will make a meaningful contribution to her research work.

PENPLUSBYTES is a registered not for profit organisation since 18th July 2001 with the vision of driving excellence in ICT journalism.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Online Journalism Awards 2013

The Online Journalism Awards (OJAs), launched in May 2000 to honor excellence in digital journalism around the world, are administered by the Online News Association in partnership with the University of Miami School of Communication.

Submit your work for the 2013 Online Journalism Awards. The deadline for submissions is June 21, 2013 at 11:59 p.m ET.

Over the past decade, the OJAs have recognized major media, international and independent sites and individuals producing innovative work in multimedia storytelling. The OJA Committee and judges place special emphasis on entries that demonstrate mastery of the special characteristics and emerging technology of digital journalism.

The finalists and the winners are selected through a two-step process. A group of 24 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals team up in pairs of two to rank finalists in each category. In September, 12 of those judges meet to select winners.

Nine of the 29 awards come with a total of $37,500 in prize money, courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Gannett Foundation, including a new $5,000 award honoring the best in Watchdog Journalism.

The OJAs are traditionally awarded on the final night of the Online News Association Conference & Awards Banquet, which will be Oct. 19, 2013, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

visit http://journalists.org/awards/ for more information 
International Institute for ICT Journalism