Afghan Media Across Borders And Cultures
The Afghanistan Today project held its annual cross-border workshop in late September 2014. The three-day workshop brought Afghan and Pakistani journalists together in Islamabad, paired them up and got them working on a variety of story ideas.

“They then explore the cultural, political and security-related similarities on both sides of the border,” says Marketa Hulpachova, Editor-in-Chief of Afghanistan Today, a website specialising in stories by Afghan journalists that also acts as a platform for ongoing professional development of local media producers.

Thirty journalists participated in the cross-border workshop, many hailing from far-flung tribal regions prone to terrorism. Half came from volatile Pakistani provinces along the Afghan border. Their Afghan counterparts represented eight Afghan provinces, with the Pashto language and culture representing a common bond for the two groups.  Among the participants were five female Afghan journalists.

This was a highlight, Hulpachova says, “because it is essential for these young female journalists to be heard in Afghan cities like Jalalabad and other areas where tribal culture remains dominant and women are often excluded from the public space.”

Another highlight was having the journalists invited to an exclusive press conference at Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “This was special for the Afghan journalists because they often lack access to these kinds of events and it also helped to dispel negative views some of them may have had about their neighbour,” Hulpachova explains.

For the first time, the workshop also focused on video journalism, which gave even print journalists who had never operated a camera before a chance to learn about rudimentary shooting techniques. This was followed up with a smaller mid-October workshop in Kabul, Afghanistan, during which local members of the Afghanistan Today team mentored five journalists in more advanced video journalism techniques.

The first reports from the September workshop have been submitted and they and others will appear on the Afghanistan Today website over the next few months.