Building capacity with bespoke training
A fresh approach to journalism capacity building is underway in Asia. And it’s all about inclusion and dialogue. They are the two buzzwords for a project that aims to empower those receiving the training from day one with course elements selected by participants, not by those providing the training.
Even the prospective trainer has to go through a selection process run by the media house taking part. I was interviewed via Skype from my home in England before they considered whether to invite me or not – and the decision-making process took more than a week.
Then followed a training needs assessment carried out by the media organisation itself. In this particular case, Prothom Alo, the leading Bangla daily newspaper in Bangladesh, was in control at all times during the training design process.
Checklist for change
This presents a challenge for the trainer, which is to ensure that the media organisations taking part in the project not only receive what they asked for, but are also exposed to fresh ideas and ways of working that their staff may not have known about and so were not in the position to request.
The process of helping a media house improve in the areas where its managers want to improve inevitably crosses over into strategic changes affecting the entire business. Everything, from setting objectives, through to workflows, roles and responsibilities, and producing content, has to be linked to business logic.
During my week with Prothom Alo I drew up a checklist of areas where I felt they could improve. The solutions I offered were all quick wins that could be achieved within existing resources, would not disrupt the current business model, and would help prepare the organisation for dealing with the impact of changing audience behaviour.
Strengthening the media business
So what started out as basic media management training, focused on locally-identified needs, evolved during the course of that training into a media strategy consultancy where every workflow and every content production process needed to be justified by business development opportunities.
Media management capacity and journalism training can’t be strengthened in isolation from the realities of the media business, they are all inextricably linked. There is absolutely no point in offering training for media management practices that don’t make business sense.
As a result, those companies exposed to the training are, potentially, gaining a strategic market advantage over those media organisations not involved in the process. Whether they make the most of the opportunity is in their hands. They received the training they wanted and have an action plan to apply the learning. They also have some fresh perspectives that they were previously unaware of and which, if applied, could take them to a new operational level.