Free Press Unlimited stimulates openness and diversity in storytelling by bringing together journalists and members of civil society organisations (CSOs), while also improving relationships between the media and the government. In a hostile environment like Somalia, it is in the interest of journalists as well as CSOs to collaborate more closely on relevant themes, strengthening them against possible persecution.

Stories that matter to the people

In Somalia and Somaliland, as in other regions where press freedom and freedom of expression are constrained, the provision of information through the media is often heavily influenced by politicians, business elites and the government. Because of this, citizens do not hear or read about the events that matter to them in their everyday lives. By training and stimulating young citizen journalists to produce stories about their communities, Free Press Unlimited contributes to holding local authorities more accountable for their actions and decisions. Additionally, the weekly broadcast of investigative radio show ‘Our Right to Know’ provides a space for local news which is fact-based and adheres to journalistic ethics.

Partnerships to protect journalists

While media laws and the right to freedom of expression exist in Somalia and Somaliland, journalists still get harassed and arbitrarily arrested. Through forging new partnerships with CSOs, journalists can exercise more pressure on the government and security forces. Free Press Unlimited and its local partners seek to improve awareness of the rights of journalists and the existing legislation to protect them. Government and media representatives meet in so-called Councils of Peace to exchange knowledge and discuss cases of misconduct. The first Councils of Peace took place in May and November 2018.

Building new capacities

Free Press Unlimited works together with Media INK, and journalists’ associations and media organisations in Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia. At the training centre of Media INK, journalists gain professional skills, which also contributes to their security. Since 2016, Media INK trained and coached 344 media workers, of which 111 women, from all regions of Somalia and Somaliland. Another important part of Free Press Unlimited’s intervention in the Somali media landscape concerns monitoring and analysis. Special attention is given to gender, ethical journalism and the quality of news reporting.