Sofia Hultqvist and Jaldeep Katwala

FOJO invests in multi-year project to strengthen free, independent and professional journalism in Asia

Two project managers have been newly employed by the media institute FOJO to work with multi-year projects in Asia to promote free, independent and professional journalism. Sofia Hultqvist will work as project manager in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Jaldeep Katwala as project manager in Bangkok, Thailand.

The aim of the project in Bangladesh is to develop and strengthen quality journalism. In Thailand, it is about establishing a network of institutes for the further training of journalists in Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The projects are funded by SIDA and will run over five and three years respectively. The project managers will be there for three and two years respectively.

Sofia and Jaldeep, what is it that you will work with more specifically?

"Together with MRDI, our local partner, and a choice of media houses will work to promote the production of more qualitative and investigative journalism in the country. One aspect of this is working with security questions and how editorial offices can carry out investigative journalism as safely as possible. It is also about strengthening the skills and conditions for women journalists and other journalists with experiences that are not very well represented within the genre", says Sofia.

"My commission is to lead this new project that aims to strengthen six different institutes that work with the further education of journalists in four different countries – Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – and to establish a collegial network in order to enable the institutions to learn from each other", explains Jaldeep.

What is the situation like for journalists in these countries?

"It's tough; there is a lack of independent employers and low wages. There are also threats, which have resulted in deadly violence towards journalists, which, of course, hinders a free and professional journalism. In Bangladesh, the situation has become worse over the last few years because of the political situation", Sofia explains.

"According to most indicators of freedom of the press, the four countries in which I will work do not have a free press. That is to say, journalists are not free to write what they want and are also limited in how they can carry out their work. Journalists are also often threatened and harassed. If the worst comes to the worst, exposed to violent threats or even killed", says Jaldeep.

What are you hoping to accomplish to strengthen journalism?

"A lively debate and method development for investigative journalism, both locally within the country and linked to global networks. We also want to strengthen a journalism that finds forms for investigating society and publishing results that are available to the people. I believe that global networks and collaborations are key now in the digital and global era, where information and capital are no longer contained by national borders", Sofia concludes.

"I want to work for a positive development towards sustainable solutions. I also want to contribute to establishing skills development centres at which journalists who are in the middle of their career can receive further education", says Jaldeep.