Sat, 05 Mar 2005

Foundation provides $1m for Indonesian journalists

Agencies, Jakarta

The board of trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has approved US$1 million in emergency funding to three international journalism organizations to work together to aid print and broadcast journalists in Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami.

The grants will help rebuild infrastructure and facilities destroyed by the killer tidal waves, as well as recruit new staff, AScribe newswire reported.

The three organizations -- Internews, the International Center for Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists -- all have extensive experience working with and aiding journalists in developing countries.

Internews will use its $500,000 grant to rebuild radio journalism in the Aceh capital of Banda Aceh.

The Aceh province was the most devastated by the tsunami, with 122,000 dead.

Two production studios and three editing labs, capable of producing radio for distribution across Indonesia, will be built. Internews also will use the grant money to build two smaller production facilities, hire several advisers and provide stipends for local journalists who are willing to go back to work as well as stipends for the families of journalists who were killed.

With Internews focusing on radio, a $400,000 Knight grant to the International Center of Journalists will aid print and TV journalists in Aceh. The center, which runs the Knight International Press Fellowships for American journalists to train overseas media, will use the grant for a special series of fellows.

At least four fellows will serve in 2005 and 2006, with each spending time in the field being debriefed by the outgoing fellow, so that one continuous line of training is developed.

The Committee to Protect Journalists will use a $100,000 grant to establish a special free press fund to protect Indonesian journalists from government censorship and harassment. The CPJ may, in turn, give over some of those funds to local groups to allow them to rebuild their capacity to push for press freedom.

"We hope the independent journalism produced by the efforts of all three organizations will play a part in rebuilding this devastated area, as well as inspire a new generation of independent journalists in Indonesia and help move the country toward a freer, more vibrant press," said Mike Maidenberg, Knight Foundation vice president and chief program officer.

Concern has grown in recent months that government officials will use the tsunami as an excuse to exercise greater control over the Indonesian media. A separatist rebellion in the province of Aceh has been ongoing for the last three decades and has killed 12,000 people.

These grants mark the first time Knight Foundation has approved emergency funds to rebuild journalism infrastructure.





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