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Cotton Tree News - Sierra Leone

Cotton Tree News (CTN) was a radio news programming studio launched in 2007 in Sierra Leone by Fondation Hirondelle in partnership with the University of Freetown in Fourah Bay, the country's leading institution of higher education. The project implemented by Fondation Hirondelle from 2007 to 2011 combined the creation and development of a university campus radio with program productions broadcast by partner radio stations and the setting up of a training center for young journalists.

Six months after its launch in early 2007, Cotton Tree News was recognized for its professionalism in the coverage of the August 2007 national elections, which helped strengthen the transition to peace and democracy in Sierra Leone. After only one year of existence, CTN was on the list of radios nominated by the BBC for the "Special Award for Development Media". An independent audience study indicates that one in four Sierra Leoneans listened to its programs (Audience Survey conducted in August 2010 by the Graham Mytton Institute).

In its initial conception, the team of journalists, including freelancers and student volunteers, worked under the supervision of an editor-in- chief. Every day, it offered six hours of programs in English and in the 4 national languages, in three prime time slots. CTN's programs were broadcast on Radio Mount Aureol (the University's student radio) and on partner radio stations across the country. Most of its programs and newsletters were available on its website, which drew an average of 26,000 visits per month in 2010.

At the beginning of 2011, due to lack of funding, Fondation Hirondelle suspended its involvement in the development of a new phase of the CTN project. The University of Fourah Bay decided to maintain CTN and continues the management and production of programs, in a more modest way.