DRC: When Reporters and Readers Come Face to Face

November 1, 2017

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO — Oct. 6 was the big day.

It was the day I would come face to face with our readers around the world to tell them about the kinds of stories the Global Press team in DRC is producing, and why.

The Reporter Conversation is a new event for us. It’s designed to give readers the opportunity to ask reporters questions, and to give reporters a chance to provide more context and exciting details of the reporting process.

Using video technology, and with a cooperative internet connection, I began to see faces pop on my screen. In my role as the regional program manager for all Global Press programs in Africa, I was given the privilege of talking about the impact our journalism is having in our community and beyond.

For the women who train under a former boxing champion in Goma, boxing is more than just a sport. Read our latest story from the DRC here. (Ley Uwera, GPJ DRC)

It was a pleasure to share more about the sometimes lengthy process of producing a Global Press story. Our reporters are telling stories from difficult locations, and our editors require absolute accuracy and verification. So, when a story is finally published, the reporter and I feel joy. But the article’s journey doesn’t end with publication, because we care about our readers. Studying the impact that our stories have and understanding the way readers use our work are very important for me and for my fellow GP journalists.

When I was invited to participate in the conversation, I was excited about the opportunity to talk directly with our readers and answer their questions. I was touched by the time and the attention they took to listen to what I was saying.

Among the questions, I was asked if my community is well represented in other global media.

My answer was no.

For too long, DRC has been covered as though we are people without civilization. People who kill one another every day. And who know of nothing but extreme poverty. That is my opinion of the coverage in general, and I can prove it.

Go to Google and type in three words: DRC in news.

I am certain you will only find stories about poverty, killing, rape, and the like.

A screenshot of a Google search for “DRC in news” on October 31, 2017.

This is where the uniqueness of Global Press comes in. I don’t disagree that those things are happening. There is bad news here. But there is good news too. And at Global Press we are committed to providing long-term, proportional coverage so that our readers truly understand this place.

As reporters, we have this unique chance to talk about development, food and celebrations. And perhaps most important, we have the unique chance to feature stories about local people who are working hard to find solutions to our problems.

Attending a Reporter Conversation is a singular opportunity for reporter and reader alike. It’s a chance to learn about our feelings, our strengths and, most important, about our humanity.