On September 12-13, a training on covering the efficient use of water resources was organized for press-services of ministries and agencies as well as mass media of Uzbekistan at the Innovations and Scientific Research Cluster of CAREC-TIIAME. The event was held within UzWaterAware project, implemented by CAREC with the financial support of the European Union, in partnership with Innovation and Education Centre “Severnaya Stolitsa”.
The aim of the training “Press-services and Mass Media: cooperation in covering efficient and productive water use” was to identify existing problems in partnership between press-secretaries with journalists. During the workshop participants found the best options for their solution, learned about new approaches and tools on the formation of public opinion. It should be noted that the topic of the training was chosen on the results of baseline questionnaire of the journalists, held in October 2017 during the informal meeting of the project team with the media in “open kitchen” format.
Trainer and developer of the special program was Mr Andrei Boitsov, project manager at the Innovation and Education Centre “Severnaya Stolitsa”. The first day of the training was devoted to the deep work with representatives of press-services of state organizations of Uzbekistan.
The specialists of press-services assessed the quality of their activities and current cooperation with journalists before and after the training. They also learned about their tasks, the process and importance of partnership with the media, as well as about their influence on the formation of public opinion and mechanisms of changing the society. In addition, the specialists were presented in an interactive form various methods of preparing and holding the events, samples of prompt response in different situations, other foreign experience, practices and historical facts, related to their activities.
For example, participants learned who are opinion leaders and how they affect the citizens' understanding of the situation. Also, the specialists studied the elements of the "message house". According to this technique, evidence, proof, support must lie in the “foundation". The walls are key messages, and the roof is a general thought, umbrella statement. Otherwise, the "house" will fall apart.
Also, experts have analyzed how to apply the Carpman-Berne triangle "victim-rescuer-aggressor". In a crisis situation, the media takes on the role of saviour, perceiving press services as aggressors. That is why it is important for press service employees to respond on time and provide full information. In other words, the rejection to comment causes misunderstanding and gives the media a reason to shift the blame to the agency, which ignores the requests. As a result of the joint work of the press services of various ministries and departments, the concepts of three unique projects were created as an exemplary format of media activity.
“The work output shows great potential not only in cooperation between press-services and the media, but also the opportunity of implementation of long-term and even ambitious environmental projects, including those elaborated during the training,” said Mr. Andrei Boitsov.
During the second day of the training, the journalists from radio channels, printed and online editions joined the participants with assessment of activities of press-services, expression of difficulties and expectations on changes in cooperation and event organization. One of the important elements of the training was joint work on the projects. 20 participants of the event in combined teams prepared full strategies on promotion and implementation of three elaborated projects. After presenting the strategies, specialists and journalists discussed some occurred questions and added some ideas to these presentations.
“This practice of joint elaboration and presentation of project strategies was very useful. Those things, which we, the specialists, find evident, can be unknown by the journalists. Here comes the conclusion – the details are highly important in activities of press-services on different topics for reaching the expected results, and for my work as well,” shared her emotions Ms. Khoniya Asilbekova, the Head of the Information and Analytical Department of the Center for Specialized Analytical Control in the Field of Environmental Protection under the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Ecology and Environmental Protection.
In addition to developing project concepts, participants discussed in details the requirements and expectations from press releases given and the presence of inaccuracies or mistakes in them, the need to create a photo-base and photo archives, as well as professional qualities which both sides should have and the importance of establishing trust in the information provided.
“This training gave me not only new knowledge but also useful contacts for my work. I will definitely use new skills, tools and tricks which were taught by our great trainer for two days. I am very glad that I could participate and grateful to Mr Andrei Boitsov and organizers for unforgettable emotions,” said Ms Durdona Iskhakova, representative of press-service of the Centre of Hydrometeorological Service at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzhydromet).
Furthermore, the journalists mentioned the necessity of representation of the official person of the organization, the opportunity of direct communication and receiving information from the first-hand. The participants discussed the knowledge and information package of the press-services about their organizations, the dependence on the process of approval with the management that influences the timeliness of responses to the media requests.
“The training press-services and the journalists of Uzbekistan on cooperation in covering the efficient use of water was very interactive, positive and effective. We discussed how to improve our partnership and the importance of openness of press-services. The issue of the lack of open access of mass media to the statistics on all public activities and processes was raised again. The representatives of press-services, in their turn, noted a very passive participation of the journalists during press-conferences and the reluctance of editors to check the facts. The joint work on the ways of covering water issues of the region was also useful. Participants were searching for mechanisms on promotion, successful implementation and attraction of public attention to elaborated projects. I would like to thank the trainer from S. Petersburg and organizers of the training – CAREC Branch in Uzbekistan – for their important work aimed at increasing awareness on efficient, productive, careful use of water resources,” noted Ms Nadejda Nam, the journalist of the paper “Lady”.
It is important to mention that developed cases and projects will be introduced and used in student education and other journalists in the regions of Uzbekistan. To provide the sustainability of the UzWaterAware project and to improve the activities of state organizations the tutorial on cooperation between press-services and the media will be prepared.
“Journalists and public organizations are the driving forces which express the expectations of the society for progressive changes taking place in the country. In turn, the journalists want to see progress at least through changes in communication and exchange of information with state bodies. As a consequence, the journalists tend to have excessive demands on interaction with the press-services. And this is very good because there is a benchmark in which direction it is necessary to build work for the press-services in order that the society appreciates the work of their ministries and departments,” shared his opinion the trainer Andrei Boitsov.
According to Mr Boitsov, the first step to constructive dialogue is always the establishment of the mechanism of daily interaction. Press-services are also interested in the correctness, objectivity of the journalists, following the principles of journalistic ethics when covering the events. Mr Boitsov thinks that the conducted training has shown: good cooperation can be established within these expectations; the common ground is easy to find. He also emphasized that most of the problems have subjective, emotional character, and they can be omitted as soon as the parties start cooperating for the good of the society and the state. In particular, it can happen when covering the issues of efficient and productive use of water resources and projects in the field of ecology and climate change.
The UzWaterAware project is implemented by CAREC with the financial support of the European Union during the period 2016-2019. The overall objective of the project is to sensitise and generate a greater degree of awareness on the strategic importance of water saving, water conservation and environmental protection under the conditions of climate change