U.S. Ambassador Dennis Hankins visited Mali’s public journalism school Ecole Superieure de Journalisme et des Sciences de la Communication (ESJSC) on October 14. The visit was the culmination of months of trainings delivered by the U.S. Embassy to journalism students.
For the trainings, the Embassy used journalism training materials developed by the State Department’s Africa Regional Services. The materials cover interview techniques, choosing reliable sources, and detecting and uncovering fake news. Additionally, students read and did presentations using the Nouveaux Horizons translation of the book called Made to Stick, a very popular book by the American authors Chip and Dan Heath that provides excellent insights on how to create messages that stick in people’s heads.
Ambassador Hankins met Professor Alassane Diakité, the Director of ESJSC, and several members of the faculty. He also spoke to 3rd-year students on the important of a free media within a democracy, and sat for interviews with radio, print and TV students to give them real-world practice of conducting interviews on foreign policy.
In his remarks to the full cohort of 3rd-year students, Ambassador Hankins stressed the many important roles of a free media and the U.S. commitment to protecting and promoting freedom of the press around the world. He stressed that “journalists are indispensable to the functioning of a healthy democracy. Journalists bring transparency that is essential to the creation of a vibrant economy. Because free media has been such a great benefit to the United States, we are committed to protecting and promoting free, independent, and diverse media around the world,” he said.
Hankins also addressed the opportunities for Malian journalists as Mali prepares to hold elections and return to democratic governance, the dangers of reporting on the volatile security situation in Mali, and the challenges of dealing with rampant disinformation.
The visit concluded with two sets of interviews in the schools’ established studios, one to TV students and another to print and radio students. They covered a wide range of topics, including security, health, development and humanitarian assistance, and educational exchange programs. The interviews were aimed to be used as instructional tools for the students and professors to analyze and critique the interview techniques of the students.
The U.S. Embassy has worked with ESJSC since its founding in 2015. Embassy support has included book donations, networking with U.S. journalism schools and media professionals, and virtual trainings for members of the faculty. In 2020, A local grantee conducted training on countering fake news with all the students of ESJSC. In early August 2021, the Embassy donated classroom sets of three different Nouveaux Horizons books for integration into the curriculum.