GABORONE, Botswana, September 2019 – French state-owned international news television network based in Paris, France 24 star news reader and host of Middle East Matters, Sanam Shantyaei is in the country for a period of 10 days to train Botswana state owned broadcaster’s newsroom on how to report and cover elections ahead of the country’s democratic election slated for October 23rd. France 24 broadcast in French, English, Arabic, and Spanish.
The British-Iranian journalist has more than 15 years of experience as a foreign correspondent and international news television producer. A speaker of French, Spanish, Italian and Farsi; Sanam has lived and worked in Britain, France, Cuba, Italy and Iran among other countries. She’s currently based in Paris, where she covers international news for France 24.
Sanam also has her own weekly flagship show, called Middle East Matters — covering socio-political, cultural and economic events. Previously, Sanam worked for AFP news agency, and prior to that for Reuters for over 6 years, initially as a reporter/producer — covering international summits, political turmoil as well cultural, fashion and sports-related feature stories.
Chatting to Botswana Unplugged in Gaborone, Sanam said journalism workshops and refresher courses are vital all year round, and not only limited to elections coverage – especially in an era where ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ thrive and also threaten to undermine legitimate reporting.
“That’s why during this 10-day course, we are focusing on an array of skills, including writing, editing and voicing, as well as doing live segments to camera and longer format reports.”
“Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time with various UN bodies and NGOs in the Middle East and Africa providing training for local journalists and those working in the communications sector. I find this element of my job extremely rewarding. Every time I leave, I too feel that I have learnt from the reporters, especially when I’m working with such young, driven and passionate individuals – like the ones at Botswana television right now,” said Sanam.
Often time local journalists are eager to make their mark outside the perimeters of Botswana, and when quizzed about the working conditions at her base back in Paris, the 37-year-old described France 24 as a breath of fresh air.
“France 24 is a breath of fresh air. We have a very young, international newsroom, and we work alongside individuals from different background and that works complimentary to each other. Our focus is to provide global news from a French perspective, and I’m proud to say that in this part of the world, we are widely viewed,” she said.
A veteran in her field, Sanam cautioned local journalists to always exercise professionalism in their work especially when reporting on the upcoming elections as the media plays a pivotal role in informing the citizens.
“Elections are a combination of both predictable events and surprises. I would advise journalists to prepare. This is key to covering any vote anywhere in the world. They need to strive to be impartial, and give equal airtime to all the different candidates. They also need to engage with different segments of society to bring colour and an understanding of the overall issues that could impact the vote.
After the ballots have been cast, they must be very accurate and up-to-date with figures. Lastly, given that we are living in the digital age, all journalists need to ensure that they are well-vested across various social media platforms, where the latest information may be disseminated,” she concluded.
For her part, France 24’s Development Manager Africa, Apophia Komugisha said the provision of the FMM trainings is part of the obligations underlined in the agreement signed between France 24 and DBS (Department of Broadcasting Services).
“DBS, the technical structure of Botswana TV, broadcasts France 24 on its public DTT platform national wide.
In exchange, FMM Académie delivers once a year, a ten (10) days working training session of journalist/producers and technical staff employed by BTV in the field of editing, journalism practice and broadcasting.