The Philippines: Tracking Government Efforts to Reduce Poverty

In the Philippines, Knight International helped journalists investigate the effectiveness of government programs designed to reduce poverty. With officials up for reelection in 2010, Knight Fellow Alex Tizon worked with The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) to determine whether the government delivered on promises to improve conditions. Tizon introduced new digital techniques that will enable major media outlets to gather better information from the poorest provinces.

Kenya: Boosting Business Reporting, Tanzania: Boosting Rural Coverage

In Tanzania, Knight International played an advisory role in the creation of the Tanzania Media Fund, an organization that trains journalists and funds reporting projects around the country. Knight Fellow Karen Rothmyer also worked with HakiElimu, a local non-profit group that was a model for the Fund. These projects have enabled urban reporters to cover the countryside in ways never done before.

Rothmyer also worked in Kenya with a start-up: the independent newspaper The Nairobi Star.

Jun 202010

First Day in Class

I had hopes that, if not all, at least most of the students who assured me they'd be here on the first class would show up.

Folha de São Paulo, the newspaper where I'm hosted, has 12 computers in the training room I was given access to. Unfortunately the larger room, with 14 machines, was being used by Folha's own trainees and was not available.

Jun 192010

News Story Leads to Help for Dairy Industry

I have for a while been aware of the ironic “equality” between Africa and America that the rate of food wastage on the two continents is about the same at 30 to 50 percent: In America it is spoilt in people’s refrigerators while in Africa it is spoilt on the way to the market.

But this disturbing African reality hit me again hard in the face last month as we were gathering information about the Tanzania dairy industry ahead of the Milk Week at the end of May.

Nov 92009

Finally Tanzanians ready to let Swahili grow

Editors Note: The author discusses the growth of the Kiswahili dialect in Tanzania.

For decades, Tanzanians have cherished their version of Swahili, considered to be the purest in the region. But in the spirit of opening up, they now seem to be accepting the "less pure" versions of the neighbours.

Last week I gate crashed into a retreat of top Tanzanian editors and media managers that was taking place in Arusha and it was a most rewarding experience.

Oct 222009

Dispatch From Typhoon Country

One day this summer, on the island of Masbate, I watched a tricycle chug down the highway carrying 20 people. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I may not have believed it. Fortunately, my journalist colleague Rowena Paraan saw it, too, and she confirmed my count.

For my American friends: what people here call a tricycle is a small motorcycle with a covered sidecar. In Manila, tricycle drivers taxi people between neighborhoods; in the provinces, between towns and villages. Tricycles are ubiquitous in the Philippines.

Sep 252009

Dispatch From Manila

I am an American journalist here in the Philippines to work on a ground-breaking media project involving the poorest of the poor. I’d like to tell you about it. But I’d be lying if I said I was here only as an altruist. I’m also here for selfish reasons: to experience life in the country where I was born.

Sep 102009

Cars speed up as business slows down in Dar

It is the holy month of Ramadan during which Muslims all over the world fast and abstain from all forms of entertainment. Here in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, life has taken a slow pace that can be felt almost everywhere and all the time.

From the lighter traffic on the usually congested roads, to the quiet night spots which during other times of the year are literally vibrating with life, you can almost feel this city of five million souls meditating.

Aug 202009

Dispatch From Dipolog

I was expecting a city of shanties. A sprawling ghetto. A legion of beggars stumbling around a sagging town square. But I found none of these things in Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, said to be the poorest province in the Philippines.

What I found instead during a recent visit to this city of 120,000 in western Mindanao was a prim, progressive place, full of bustle and ambition and a fair number of residents mystified by their province's number-one ranking on the poverty list.

"Yes we are poor but not that poor," I heard over and over again.

Aug 172009

A Visit to the Middle of Nowhere

This past week I traveled to the geographic center of the Philippines, Masbate, one of the wildest and poorest places in this poor and unruly nation. I met with widows of murder victims, with fish-less fisherfolk and destitute gold miners. I met with a governor who, though nice enough, seemed to take pride in being clueless. “I’m not even from Masbate,” said Governor Elisa Kho. “I’m from Marikina!”

Sad, rugged, dusty place, Masbate. But a handful of individuals there gave me hope for the province, the country. They inspired me. All were journalists.