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Journalists sharpen pencils to report on drug issues

Article from Vientiane Times
Ounkham Pimmata
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
Photo: Vientiane Times

Professional journalism which reflects the reality of the drug abuse problem in Laos can both enlighten the public and encourage the government to deal with the issue.

This was the message from Mr Michel Leroy at the closing ceremony of the Journalism and Development Workshop in Laos on Friday which looked at the importance of journalism in uncovering drug issues.

Mr Leroy noted that opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking are still prevalent in Laos and the media should play an important role in presenting the issue to society.

"Training journalists to write and report in a professional way is important for society."

Training should focus on practice rather than studying theory, as this would improve writing skills more effectively, he said.

Mr Leroy believes training will allow journalists to address the issues and make people aware of the dangers posed by drugs to the development of Laos.

Charge d'Affaires of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Laos, Mr Henry Prankerd, said this is an interesting topic as it directly impacts on the development of the country.

This was the reason why the EU gave funding for the development of journalism, as reporters were believed to be vital in disseminating accurate information.

Even today some communities in rural Laos are producing opium both to sell and for personal consumption and the problems generated by this should be accurately reported to the rest of the country.

President of the Lao Journalists' Association (LJA), Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, said improving news content quality regarding drug issues is necessary to reflect social and economic development.

Dr Bosengkham said he agreed to host the training course because of the important role played by the media in the government's fight against drugs to ensure the youth of today are aware of the crippling social consequences of drug abuse.

The training took place in cooperation with Est-Ouest Institut Panos Paris and the LJA from February 21 to March 4 and was sponsored by the European Union.