1. Journalism for Development, an NGO, was formed under the aegis of the Mongolian Mining Journal to focus on training young journalists to write quality reports and produce quality TV programmes on subjects related to the economy in general and to mining in particular.
The first such training, way back in 2010, was held in Dalanzadgad for journalists working in Umnugobi province. You can get more details from our website www.journalism.mn. This was followed in 2010-2011 by a series of trainings in Ulaanbaatar on the nature and working of stock markets, subjects with which many journalists and most ordinary Mongolians, were not too familiar.
We at MMJ are all too aware of the crucial need for journalists covering mining and the economy to have a clear understanding of their subjects and to be well-informed about them at all times. Only this would enable them to provide accurate information and sensible analyses to readers and the TV audience. The need is stronger in communities in remote places, and thus our emphasis has always been on improving the skills of local journalists.
In keeping with our belief in that need, we have decided to build a local news network in 2015. Based on our experience, we have bravely decided to arrange bigger training courses to reach out to more local journalists. We express our thanks to GIZ IMRI (GIZ Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative), and MEITI (Mongolia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) for supporting our project which, for the record, is not meant to make money for MMJ, but will benefit followers of media by ensuring reliable information flow.
We started with the North region, with a training in Sukhbaatar city of Selenge province on May 26 and 27 where the participants came from all media organisations in the region’s five aimags.
We move next to Bayankhongor city where participants at the training planned for late June will come from media organizations of all seven provinces of the Western region. The contents of the programme will include discussions on the following: main features of mining production, methods of reporting, outlook of mineral commodities price, technology, new information about consumption, special features of operations of mining companies active in local aimags and soums, their tax contribution to the local and the state budgets, reclamation, measures of corporate social responsibility, relations between citizens and companies, etc. MMJ will prepare diverse material to be distributed among attendees. These will include material from TV programmes.
The training for journalists in the four provinces of the South Region will be held in Sainshand in the middle of August.
Our projection is that these trainings will altogether benefit 60 journalists in the 15 provinces of the three regions, working in print media, TV, and news websites. What they learn will be reflected in the information they present to thousands of local citizens.
To make learning fun, and also to assess the efficacy of the training, all participants will take part in contests to choose the best reportage, the best background articles, and the best TV programme. The winners will receive awards, and the best reports will be published in the MMJ. These will include descriptive and analytical pieces on mining in their aimags and soums as also investigative reports and representation of the views of multiple stakeholders --local citizens, the local government, etc. All participating journalists will meet in Ulaaanbaatar in November, when a book of these best efforts, produced by MMJ, will be released.
This local news network project is planned to go beyond these trainings, as we hope to work together with the journalists for many years to come, continuing to offer them updated professional help, bringing local news nearer to Ulaanbaatar readers.
2. Another big project taken up by MMJ will see preparation and publication of reader-friendly MEITI material. Mongolia joined EITI in 2006, and in the years since then,the number of mining companies reporting on their performance to meet the requirements of the organization (EITI), has been steadily increasing. However, stakeholders in and beneficiaries of mining activities have had little place in these reports until now, though the EITI is committed to revealing how local mining companies operate and how they contribute to local development and use their revenue receipts to improve local citizens’ lives.
We intend to present information about EITI to citizens, media workers, and local government staff in a simple and easily understandable way, and thus to strengthen the desire to ‘develop together’. An MMJ team has prepared reports giving a comprehensive account of mining operations in Bayankhongor and Selenge provinces, and selected parts of it are to be found in the Mongolian section of the present issue. More such reports will be prepared using the same methodology. This is an ambitious project, and the first one of its kind in Mongolia, but our commitment to the development of the industry makes it imperative to study and report on the mining sector’s position in and contribution to local communities and their economy.
3. The sector is coming under a new legal environment, with licences being allocated online and the Extractive Industries Transparency Law under discussion in Parliament. The present issue focuses on problems arising as these processes fall in place. There are reports that online application for licences is putting billions of MNT into the state budget, but most people are not well enough informed about the glitches in the new process. We also study the reasons why local governments have been refusing many requests for licence, on the apparent ground that local citizens will not get enough benefit from mining production in their provinces or soums.
We must remember that all policy decisions on the mineral sector are made in Ulaanbaatar, but implemented in the local area. The misunderstanding between the State Palace and the remote provinces is increasing, and we see it as our job to identify the areas and causes of that disconnectivity and help breach the rift. Local journalists have a big role to play in this, by elucidating herder Sonom’sconcerns to people in Ulaanbaatar, and vice versa.
This is what brings together the two projects – local news network, and MEITI.
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