In early 2021, BARKA began a bold new strategic direction to strengthen the capacity of Burkinabè media professionals and journalists at a time when free speech and independent journalism are under attack in the wake of a devastating humanitarian crisis. Our timing is critical, as the government has placed strict regulations on what journalists and newsmakers can cover with respect to the volatile security situation and the nearly 2 million people who have been internally displaced as a result (cited by the UN as the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crisis). This project supports courageous truth-tellers by arming journalists with tools that are immediately applicable and needed to demonstrate the extremity of this crisis.
Funded by the US Embassy of Ouagadougou and partnered with a Hollywood production company, this project engages American filmmakers and producers to share their expertise. Under their supervision, Burkinabè media professionals and journalism students create, produce, and disseminate Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on themes that highlight shared values between the US and Burkina Faso and align with BARKA’s mission. The pilot’s themes focus on: promoting democracy, advancing peace and countering violent extremism, promoting equitable social growth with particular regard to gender rights and menstrual health, and reinforcing health security in the context of a global pandemic. Through this new program, BARKA is reaching a national audience, serving the public interest across several of our mission themes, while simultaneously strengthening the capacity of local media professionals and journalists to tell better stories and access global channels of distribution.
This program will also engage Ouagadougou’s School of Journalism to provide unprecedented professional opportunities for students, encouraging them to enter the arena of media policy activism by helping them use video to tell their stories in more compelling ways. PSAs will be distributed on national television, with a strong emphasis on social media promotion and distribution.