The Tanzania Media Fund has broadened its six-month Fellowship Programme by accommodating editors’ recommendations that the number of participants be increased and that beneficiaries represent three categories.
TMF Executive Manager Ernest Sungura explained in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the development of the programme was in line with suggestions gathered during an editors’ luncheon held in Dar es Salaam last October.
“We have now broadened the coverage of the Fellowship Programme to include junior, mid-career and senior journalists, which was not among our plans when we launched the programme early last year,” he said.
“Unlike in the maiden programme, where we had only four beneficiaries all from the same category, this time TMF intends to select 10 participants – four each in the junior and mid-career categories and two in the senior category,” he noted, adding that there would be “due emphasis” on Kiswahili media outlets.
The TMF executive said the process of screening applicants for the scholarship has started and the shortlisting of journalists in all three categories is well under way.
“Those shortlisted will be subjected to oral and written interviews sometime next month, a rigorous procedure that will involve a panel of seasoned journalists to ensure fair selection,” he pointed out, adding however that many media practitioners had remained “inexplicably reluctant” to send in applications.
The TMF Fellowship is chiefly aimed at promoting quality in journalism alongside seeking to increase the quality of in-depth reporting on public interest stories and investigative reports that contribute to increased accountability in governance.
It is also meant to bridge the rural-urban gap in media coverage by getting journalists to actually go out on extended projects covering neglected or under-reported stories of national importance.
Apart from focusing on the level of participants’ professional skills, the Fellowship dwells on development of journalists’ knowledge by including a variety of seminars and workshops in their six-month programme.
Last year’s beneficiaries of the programme were senior journalists Eric Kabendera from The Guardian, Orton Kiishweko and Finnigan wa Simbeye from Daily News and Salome Gregory from The Citizen.
Sungura meanwhile underlined the need for TMF to work much more closely with media organisations, “at least with a view to ensuring that all concerned appreciate the fact that we are to serve them and that both parties are obliged to understand and support each other”.
He said the Fund was committed to helping consolidate freedom and responsibility, imagination and creativity, transparency and accountability, reflection and learning, respect and teamwork in Tanzania as a way of helping the country boast independent, quality, diverse and vibrant media.