ICFJ is training current and future journalists as well as helping them to draft a comprehensive media law that will protect freedom of speech and freedom of information for print, broadcast and online journalists.
Since Timor-Leste became a nation in 2002, its fledgling news media has suffered crippling setbacks, including the violence that gripped the nation after Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was forced to resign in June 2006.
RTTL, the national broadcaster, came under attack and the Timor Post ceased publication for several days when staff members fled the capital for safety in the nearby mountains.
Violence flared again surrounding elections in 2007, and in February of 2008 a small rebel force attacked and badly injured President Jose Ramos Horta. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped injury in a parallel attack on his convoy as he was driving to work.
Despite this oppressive and sometimes dangerous environment, ICFJ has continued working with Timorese journalists on many fronts, including improving elections coverage, instituting newsroom training programs, producing radio programs, equipping regional media houses with computers and internet, working with high-school students and teaching the first university-level journalism courses in Timorese history.
Most importantly, it is helping the still-fragile media community to become more confident, professional, and better able to keep all citizens of Timor-Leste well informed.
ICFJ is working with partners, including the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), leading local media outlets, and journalist organizations, to improve news distribution and upgrade journalism standards in the country.