Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Setting RH Advocacy to the Media

Health Action Information Network (HAIN) has recently conducted the “News for a Change: RH Advocates’ Training-Workshop on Writing for Media” in collaboration with IIE-LDM and with support from IFPLP-Packard Foundation.

Twenty RH advocates from Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao joined the training. This trained aimed at the following objectives:

 To increase the knowledge and understanding of the interplay and complexities between religious history, theology, arguments, policies, issues and practices surrounding reproductive rights and health,
 To sharpen advocacy messages on RH,
 To strengthen RH advocates skills on writing for media, and
 To consolidate and build solidarity among information officers creating a network of writers’ pool and public speakers.

The workshop started with a “Walking Tour” in Intramuros headed by Carlos Celdran where he offered a historical perspective on the country’s colonial past which continues to influence the social, moral, and religious mores.

Connecting the past to present, Ms. Dulce Natividad (Women’s Health Care Foundation) discussed how the country’s past policies and programs influence the present RH situation and advocacy.

Afterwards, the participants Vigie Benosa (PLCPD) and Rikki Trinidad (HAIN) gave an overview of the present situation of RH, the issues it faced, and how these issues were covered by mass media. Atty. Carolina “Carol” Ruiz-Austria shared tips on blogging sexual rights and reproductive health.

Writing for media was the focus of the second day’s training-workshop. There were two resource speakers: Luz Rimban and Yvonne “Bon” Chua, both acclaimed journalists from VERA Files.

Rimban dug into the different forms and the reality of media: print, television, radio, and Internet; the people working behind news reporting; what makes news newsworthy; and the audience. She introduced what press release is, how it differs from press statement and media advisory, and most importantly, its usefulness in promoting the advocacy.

Chua recalled her experience of attending press conferences conducted by NGOs and used them as samples in her discussion on Media Tools: How to Start your Information System. She tackled the proper ways of putting up one fruitful press conference while giving so much emphasis on the importance of understanding the schedule of invited journalists. She also presented the “standard format” for writing press releases starting from punctuation marks to delivery via e-mail.

The room was divided into two groups wherein each participant was asked to present her/his output for critiquing. This workshop helped the participants have the chance to spot and correct the committed errors.

At the end of the day, the participants shared the lessons they obtained and how they could use and integrate them in their chosen professions.

On the third last day Frank Cimatu (Philippine Daily Inquirer-Baguio) helped the participants critiqued the presented blog articles which were homework from Day 1 of the workshop.

At the end of the workshop, the group decided to create a group blogsite where they would post RH articles and updates from their work.

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