(Prague/Washington--April 21, 2003) Six students yesterday completed the first module of a six-month radio journalism program offered by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kabul, Afghanistan. This program is part of a Congressionally-funded effort designed to train young Afghans to work in that country's re-emerging radio market. Given the fact that the vast majority -- close to 90 percent -- of the Afghan population cannot read, and very few can afford a television set, the primary source for news and ideas in Afghanistan is the radio.
RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine said that "training Afghan journalists in the basics of modern, responsible radio broadcasting is a good fit with our mission of providing a model for the development of local media. I am confident that this effort will make a valuable contribution to the building of a civil society in Afghanistan."
Last week's course was the first of four basic skills courses and two advanced courses, focusing on programming and production, to be held before the end of July 2003. Competition for the first 12 places was fierce, with more than 50 applicants interviewed. The program will culminate with a two-month module in the U.S. to give nine participants selected on merit a thorough understanding of how the media works in a democratic, stable society. After the participants return to Kabul, RFE/RL will to bring them together periodically to provide ongoing support and encourage them to share their experiences with other Afghan journalists.
This year's program, based on RFE/RL's in-house journalism training methodology and tailored to meet the needs of the Afghan trainees, will train a total of 24 aspiring journalists not affiliated with RFE/RL in radio journalism. The Kabul portion is being run by Dominic Medley and Dan Alexe. Medley brings vital experience to the program, having worked for nine months last year in Kabul as project director for a media NGO and before that as a trainer at the BBC World Service Journalism School in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Alexe is an RFE/RL veteran with more than twelve years of radio broadcast experience, who put his conversational Dari language skills to use reporting for RFE/RL from Kabul in 2002.