Haitian journalists stand in a line holding plaques, with Creole Service Chief Ronald Cesar, Latin America Division Director Yolanda Lopez, and Deputy IBB Director Jeffrey Trimble
Haitian Journalists with Creole Service Chief Ronald Cesar, Latin America Division Director Yolanda Lopez, and Deputy IBB Director Jeffrey Trimble.

Haitian Journalists Complete Social Media Workshop at VOA

Last Friday, ten journalists from Haiti received certificates from the Voice of America for their completion of a workshop on “Journalism and Social Media in the Context of Elections.”

The workshop was arranged by VOA’s Creole Service and sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“I am pleased to work with the Haiti journalists in an effort to help enhance their objective reporting skills,” said Ronald Cesar, Chief of VOA’s Creole Service. “This is VOA Creole Service’s contribution to supporting democracy in Haiti.” Since Cesar became service chief in 2008, the service has held more than 13 workshops for journalists throughout Haiti.

Shortly after their arrival, Deputy IBB Director Jeffrey Trimble and Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor welcomed the journalists. Ambassador Altidor told the group that, “My mother, who lives in Haiti, always told me when she hears a story from a radio station in Haiti, she doesn’t consider the story as news until she hears it from Voice of America’s Creole Service.”

In terms of covering elections in Haiti, the participants learned how to prepare reports that are clear, objective and balanced. The journalists were very appreciative of their roundtable discussion with the State Department Special Coordinator for Haiti, Ambassador Kenneth Merten. During that exchange, which focused on the recent Haiti elections, the special coordinator clarified that “the United States is ready to work with whoever is elected President of Haiti. The US does not support a particular candidate.”

The group got an opportunity to compare the recent elections in Haiti with the ongoing U.S. election process for president in 2016, when they met with VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone. Malone clarified the basic parts of the U.S. process including the party primaries, the electoral college vote, and why there is such a focus in the political system on fundraising.

The workshop taught the journalists the techniques for interviews and writing clear, objective, and balanced reports that will attract their audiences’ attention; how journalists today use social media; and how to apply the fundamentals of journalistic editing to their reports.

Eddy Jazil, a journalist with Radio Tele Metropole in Port-au-Prince, said, “There are new apps that have just come out. I learned how to use them and when I return to Haiti, I will apply them. I will share my knowledge with my colleagues.” Marie Mirlide Laguerre, a journalist with Radio Tele Signal FM in Port-au-Prince, said that the training sessions “gave us added value to what we already know and taught us how to write better; how to ask questions; and how to investigate.”

VOA Creole is recognized as the leading international news organization broadcasting to Haiti. Along with radio and the web, the Creole Service broadcasts radio on TV Monday through Friday, and engages its listeners actively on social media. Over 9 in 10 weekly VOA Creole listeners find its content trustworthy.

VOA reaches a global weekly audience of more than 172 million people in nearly 50 languages. VOA programs are delivered on satellite, cable, shortwave, FM, medium wave, streaming audio and video and more than 2,350 media outlets worldwide. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.