September 18, 2010 by staff
Okapi, The International Press Institute (IPI) has honored the Radio Okapi, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with 2010 “Free Media Pioneer Award. Radio Okapi began broadcasting on February 25, 2002 as a public service station with the aim of contributing to building peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Swiss Hirondelle Foundation, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in Kinshasa run the radio station jointly.
IPI Free Media Pioneer Award was established in 1996 in honor of the media who have contributed, through their tireless efforts and, sometimes in extreme risk, the development of free media in their countries. Recent winners include Russia’s Novaya Gazeta (2009), Talking Points Memo (2008), Mizzima News Agency of India and Burma (2007), the Yemen Times (2006) and SW Radio Africa in the UK.
Eight years after it first went on air, Radio Okapi has demonstrated its sustainability and changed the face of news reporting from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a country that has suffered violence and underdevelopment, Okapi contributes to peace and democratization, to allow free flow of information. The station set a benchmark for the media’s professionalism and ethics and diversity, with daily broadcasts in five languages, including four national languages. The majority of network programming is in French.
Radio Okapi has contributed to the dissemination of news online and on the Democratic Republic of Congo. Your website is the news website for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more than 400,000 visits a month, gives the world outside of a portal to the daily evolution of the country.
Unfortunately, the station has also paid a high price for their reports. In June 2007, the news editor Serge Maheshe Kasole was killed. He and other journalists in the office of Radio Okapi in Bukavu had received threats because of their reporting on fighting between rebels, government forces and local militants. A year later, his colleague Didace Namujimbo also died, possibly because of their reporting on the death of Mr. Kasole and several-suspected test failures that followed.
However, the station has become the most listened to station in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with full third country tuning in every day.
“It is a pleasure and an honor for IPI in the name of Radio Okapi in its 15th Free Media Pioneer” said IPI Director Alison Bethel Interim McKenzie. “They are a shining example not only for media in other conflict or post-conflict areas, but for radio stations worldwide. Their professionalism, high standards, and value have borne fruit – in form of an incredible 20 million listeners. Welcome to Radio Okapi Hirondelle Foundation and the UN for their tireless efforts to bring the news of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the citizens of the nation and the world. ”
Representatives of Radio Okapi Hirondelle Foundation and the Organization of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo receive the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award during the opening ceremony of the IPI World Congress in Vienna, Austria, be held from 11 – 14 September 2010.
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