‘The People’s Voice’ is a newspaper supplement that is inserted in leading newspapers in South Sudan read by government officials and the elite. It is the major component of an 18 month project run by the Union of Journalists of Southern Sudan (UJOSS) and the Media Diversity Institute (MDI).
Santino Okanyi Lewa, The People's Voice Supervisor, explains the philosophy of the supplement in the editorial of the first edition:
“Listen to the voice of the common people and act.
Common people, in any country, make up the majority of the population. Yet they are usually the most neglected by governments, NGOs and the agencies of the international community, especially in Africa.
In Southern Sudan, which has been at war for over half a century, there are many helpless people; widows, orphans, the disabled, illiterate, rural communities crippled by poverty and disease, employees going for months without salary; the list is long.
A close look at the media in South Sudan, especially the print media, reveals that the voices of such needy people are not sufficiently reflected. Most newspapers in South Sudan go for statements from the authorities and other powerful people who make headlines, but the silent majority remain unheard.
Even in many of the statements of people elected by the rural poor to represent them you hardly find a word that mentions issues that need to be addressed in favour of rural communities. Having no voice and nobody who has the courage to talk on their behalf, the needs and hopes of the most disadvantaged members of society and rural communities go unheard.
This situation is a challenge which has brought together the London based Media Diversity Institute (MDI) and the Union of Journalists of Southern Sudan (UJOSS), supported by the European Commission, to give a voice to the most disadvantaged people and the rural population and create a bridge between them and their leaders.
This voice and bridge is 'The People’s Voice’ newspaper. So, let’s listen and act.”
At this key point in the history of South Sudan, as it moves from declaration of independence towards state-building, creating a bridge between the common people and their leaders is an essential part of the process of democratic development.
Other components of the 18 month project include:
- Organising roundtable discussions with government officials and civil society leaders to address issues of government accountability to the rural public, as well as the challenges facing the Government of South Sudan and the media.
- Training a team of journalists to gather the news stories for ‘The People’s Voice’.
- Strengthening the capacity of UJOSS to serve as an effective union for journalists in South Sudan.
Further information on this project and its activities and background information on South Sudan can be found by exploring this webspace. For additional information contact: