Spokesperson & Journalism Workshop – Empowering Migrants & Refugee leaders!

By Putry Wiwi Widyawati, NSI

SIGNIS Malaysia organised for North South Initiative (NSI) a 2-day workshop, from 14 December 2022 (Wednesday) 15 December 2022 (Thursday) on ‘Spokesperson & Journalism’ which are skills immensely needed for community activists to be influential enough to carry out their work in spreading and making political, social and cultural change.

It was held at the Council of Churches Malaysia in Petaling Jaya and took place from 9am to 5pm for both days. I actually felt that it should have been a bit longer perhaps for 5 or more days and full of immersive activities. Despite being only for two days it was still fruitful and I really enjoyed the richness of the trainer’s thoughts and insights.

Mr. Augustine Anthuvan from Singapore, the workshop trainer, was a former Executive Producer for Channel NewsAsia’s (CNA) current affairs section (editorial) and is presently a media/communications trainer and consultant for SIGNIS on their Journalism programmes. This workshop was attended by migrant & refugee community leaders and their second liners in Malaysia from various South and South East Asian countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia.

On the first day, we learnt mainly on strategic media relations, on how to describe or articulate the work of NSI (especially on the advocacy of migrant & refugee rights), and on how to face or handle questions from the media and public. On the second day, we learnt about Photo-language, setting out powerful narratives, how news is produced and to write with style and efficiency. Both days were very hands-on, and exercises were given to the participants right after the sharing and discussions.

It was in this workshop that I learnt more specifically and experientially about the media with regards to arranging and organising my chain of thought when engaging with the media or the public. Writing also was an area that I felt was well covered in this workshop. It emphasised as a crucial part of planning in terms of writing a script before going on camera. The task given during the workshop to us was the task of framing, writing and presenting our ideas in front of the camera whether for being physically present or for an online audience.

No matter how nervous I was to be in front of the camera or in front of a physically present audience, I managed to learn the techniques to overcome this which is to plan ahead and vigorously improve my verbal language skills and to give more focus when faced with a difficulty. Mastering the technique of speech delivering like a professional is to think of ways to connect with the audience we are speaking to.

My participation in this training has really helped me in my daily work of handling many cases on the phone. On a personal note, I would always commit myself to raising my confidence and apply the skills learnt (especially on engaging with the public in press conferences and writing for the media) so that I can speak for the voiceless mainly on the issues of migrant and child rights.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Augustine Anthuvan for sharing his treasure trove of experience and also to SIGNIS Malaysia and NSI for giving me the opportunity to acquire the critical understanding of how the media works along with raising my self-confidence. What we as participants have attained from this workshop was extremely beneficial to make us sharp in communicating and advocating for empowering others, as well as creating a positive change no matter how small it may be.

About NSI:
North South Initiative (NSI) is a human rights and social justice organisation that advocates for migrant and refugee rights. It was established in 2014 by Adrian Anthony Pereira and Anne Beatrice Jacobs, two long-time activists who began their practice of promoting and fighting for justice with experiences in various NGOs in Malaysia such as Pusat KOMAS, Dignity International, IMCS (International Movement for Catholic Students) and Engage Media.

About SIGNIS Malaysia:
SIGNIS is the World Catholic Association for Communication (www.signis.net). It is a lay public international association with members in over 100 countries, with its secretariat in Brussels, Belgium. SIGNIS is officially recognised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, and also has consultative status with UNESCO and the Council of Europe. As the local national association, SIGNIS Malaysia is the representative and member of the international SIGNIS, with voluntary members who are communication and media professionals.