Building Better Media in Timor-Leste


The International Center for Journalists’ project in Dili, Timor-Leste, is working to develop a strong, professional and sustainable media sector. Goals include improving the ability of Timorese journalists to produce and disseminate high quality news and information to all citizens of Timor-Leste.

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.

Our Stories

  • Mar 292011

    Letter from Dili - The March 2011 Report from ICFJ Timor-Leste

    Journalism Training

    In collaboration with members of the Singapore Press Club, ICFJ Timor-Leste organized a two-day journalism workshop on March 25 and 26. The training event was led by Mano Sabnani, former editor of two daily newspapers in Singapore, Business Times and TODAY. Sabnani led a group of senior Singapore journalists on a media familiarization trip to Timor-Leste from March 19 – 22, and he agreed stay behind to conduct the journalism workshop.

  • Feb 272011

    Letter from Dili - The February 2011 Report from ICFJ Timor-Leste

    The new 2011 semester for the Social Communications degree program at the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) commenced on 15 February.

  • Jan 302011

    Letter from Dili - The January 2011 Report from ICFJ Timor-Leste

    UMR Maubisse

    Saturday, January 15 was a special day for the Maubisse Media House. A delegation headed by Dr. Jonah Blank, Policy Director at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for South and Southeast Asia visited the Regional Media House. Other members of his delegation included Christopher Crawford, Political & Economic Officer at the US Embassy in Timor-Leste; Cheryl Williams, Acting Mission Director, USAID Timor-Leste; and Lisa Rogers from USAID Timor-Leste. ICFJ Senior Program Consultant Bikila Merga gave Dr.

  • Dec 302010

    Letter from Dili - The December 2010 Report from ICFJ Timor-Leste

    UNTL Curriculum Launch

    December was a busy month at the ICFJ compound in Dili as the staff prepared to put the wraps on 2010. By far the biggest event of the month was the handover of the first-ever four year Social Communications curriculum to the National University. In fact, it is the first-ever Social Communications curriculum for Timor-Leste!

    The event, held at UNTL (National University of Timor-Leste), was attended by more than 80 guests – including representatives from the university, the Ministry of Education, the U.S. Embassy, USAID, AusAID and UNTL students.

  • Nov 292010

    Letter from Dili - The November 2010 Report from ICFJ Timor-Leste

    November was almost like a month of holidays! Five holidays in one month, but a lot was accomplished …

    Reporter’s Handbook / Training Manual

    ICFJ rolled out a new book: “Journalism in Timor-Leste: A Reporter’s Handbook” by Chloe Adams, with contributions from members of the Journalism Training of Trainers program. This manual for journalism trainers contains lots of examples of Timorese stories and uses extensive material from the “Journalism Training of Trainers” (JTOT) sessions held twice-weekly at ICFJ.