Media Pool; Bridging Media on Access to Information

Reporters sit in Media Pool area to capture information and quality footage on the plenary proceedings of the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga). © UNDP / Ajmal Sherzai / 2018

Kabul, 23 April 2018 — Mohammad Rafi Sediqi, a reporter with Ariana News, remembers how difficult it used to be to file a news report about the work of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of the Afghan Parliament).

“On one occasion, several media outlets came to the Meshrano Jirga to prepare news reports but the reporters could not record any footage because of technical issues with the open-air loudspeakers,” says Rafi. “All the media people wasted a whole day without being able to record any content to broadcast.”

The Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) and Upper House (Meshrano Jirga) parliament sessions are where Afghan politicians make important political decisions affecting all 34 Afghan provinces. Rafi has been coming to these sessions for about three years, but until now, getting footage, quality sound and pictures was difficult. Strict security meant that the media were not allowed to bring their equipment inside the Assembly, and there were no proper facilities for recording meetings or storing archival footage.

 “It was nearly impossible for my cameraperson to get good quality pictures and footage,” recalls Rafi.  “The sound was dreadful too. We were getting a feed from open-air loudspeakers, and the sound was mixed up with all kinds of other noises, so that it really put off the audience.”

Highlights

  • Rafi Sediqi, a reporter with Ariana News, along with other media outlets faced challenges to prepare news reports about the work of Upper House (Meshrano Jirga).
  • Reporters like Rafi could not get good quality pictures, sound and footage to use in their reports.
  • Establishing media pool facilitated reporters to capture and share the plenary proceedings of the Upper House with the public.

Yet, according to the Article 4 of Afghanistan’s Access to Information Law, all institutions have a responsibility to provide information to the general public. Something had to be done.

To tackle the issue, UNDP’s Institutional and Capacity Support to the Parliament of Afghanistan (ICSPA) project supported the Secretariat of the Meshrano Jirga to establish a media pool. The media pool allows reporters to capture and share the plenary proceedings of the Upper House with the public, without needing to be physically present in the plenary hall. Besides standard audio and video archiving, the media pool provides high definition (HD) videos for the Meshrano Jirga’s own recently-established television channel.

Rafi says, “The media pool has helped all media outlets get quality pictures, footage and sound for news reports. Now, even if reporters miss an important debate, they can simply get footage from the archive.” The media pool means that Afghan citizens can now closely follow their elected leaders and hold them to account, which is an important component of a functioning democracy.

UNDP’s ICSPA Project, funded by European Union, Germany and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, has supported secretariats of both houses of parliament to complete self-assessments and develop reform plans to guide institutional development. The project has also assisted the National Assembly to better coordinate with its international partners in line with the parliament’s priorities.

 

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