Participants and organizers at the data journalism training workshop in Dili, Timor-Leste. (Photo by by Nuno Ram Da S. H. Fatima of UNDP)

[Timor-Leste] A young democracy puts premium on media training

A free and professional press has value for any democracy, and Timor-Leste seems to know this full well.

Training workshops are some of the many efforts of the media community in Timor-Leste, a young democracy that gained its independence in 2002, to develop the quality of journalism in their country. Toward this end, regional and international organizations appear ready to lend a hand.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) recently conducted a two-day training on data journalism in Dili. At least 38 journalists and media practitioners attended the workshop held on July 14 to 15.

The participants were working journalists from radio, television, print, and online media. Communication students also took part in the workshop.


Photos from the Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste and by Nuno Ram Da S. H. Fatima of UNDP


The training module covered the basics of using numbers to tell stories and generating insights from the massive information available in an ever-changing digital landscape.

SEAPA organized the training workshop in cooperation with the Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste (Press Council of Timor-Leste) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Leveraging Electoral Assistance for Regionalized Nation-Building (LEARN) Project.

In January 2018, the press council and UNDP launched this comprehensive training program to “strengthen the capacity of journalists to report political affairs for mass dissemination” and equip journalists with knowledge and skills that will help them “ensure accurate reportage of a particular political development, or undertake necessary analysis to produce an informed programme or news articles during the electoral cycle.”

The data journalism training workshop is a component of the project, which has several modules on editorial skills and journalism courses.

The lecture and discussion covered the data journalism process — from collecting and cleaning data to analysis and presentation — trends and data visualization tools, as well as journalist safety and digital security.

“This course helps us understand more about what data journalism is and how we can use this data journalism to help our community or society with information that we produce,” remarked one of the participants.

Ana Sequeira, executive director of the Press Council of Timor-Leste, expressed hopes for more media training in her country, echoing the clamor of other journalists and editors who were not able to join the SEAPA media workshop.

“They heard good feedback from the participants,” she said.   

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