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The group during the last week of training, here with trainer Sophie Ekoue. ©Salimata Barry / Fondation Hirondelle The group during the last week of training, here with trainer Sophie Ekoue.

A network of West African journalists emerges from a series of training courses

The final session of our "Violence prevention and the media" project took place in December. Twenty-five journalists from 7 West African countries, across all media, gathered in Ouagadougou for a 4th training session. Their desire to maintain links and work together as journalists has led to the creation of a cross-border network.

Fondation Hirondelle brought together 25 journalists from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea in Ouagadougou to strengthen the media's ability to play a role in prevention in West African regions affected by or threatened by violent extremism. Launched in November 2022 and entitled "Violence Prevention and the Media", the project ended in December with a fourth and final training session. It is funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

Four one-week training sessions were offered to the cohort of journalists. This was highlighted by contributions from experts, researchers and journalists who shared their knowledge and experience of regional dynamics, offering key insights into the roots of violent extremism in each context and the implications of media coverage.

At the same time, editorial training sessions were offered to the group to support their production skills. Between each training session, each participant was given editorial support to produce an article. These "coaching" processes enabled them to put into practice the elements they had learned during the training sessions, but also to provide elements for discussion and sharing of experience during the group meetings.

This long-term project has also helped to forge links between the various journalists involved, and to foster a desire for synergies and joint working. This aspect was at the heart of this last training session, which led to the creation of a cross-border association bringing together the journalists involved in the project. The association is in the process of being formalised and will aim to disseminate the information provided as part of the training, but also to encourage joint production by the journalists involved and their media. It aims to be both a training and learning structure, geared towards solution-based journalism, investigation and the fight against disinformation and a commitment to democracy.