Civic Radio in East Timor: Fighting Low Literacy and Isolation

The ICFJ’s East Timor: Delivering Radio and Television News to Isolated Communities program is clearly a good example of what civic radio is.
This project consists of mentoring journalists in Dili  (the capital of East Timor) to produce news spots for a radio program that airs weekly throughout the whole country. The classes are taught by Maria-Gabriela Carrascalao Heard, who is not only a Knight fellow but East Timor’s first woman journalist and the person behind this project that has been running for about 4 months now.
The reporters are producing several news stories every day and putting them on air via the Radio Rakambia station. Moreover, the best stories of the week are collected in CDs and distributed to small community radios in isolated parts of the country. Due to East Timor’s low literacy rate and high language diversity (not to mention social and violence problems), radio is the perfect tool its citizens. In fact, most of the stories being aired by the project in Dili and in the isolated areas are about news that some communities have never heard and that, otherwise, would never be able to hear.
In East Timor, this project is making radio go back to its roots as a democratic, accessible medium that serves the people in moments of need.

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