The Hidden Success of Beyond the Bite

Eastina Taylor, our Community Engagement Officer, looks at the growing confidence, capacity, and conviction within the community reporter network in Sierra Leone.

Imagine bringing people together who don’t have any journalistic skills and training them, and now they’re reporting, and they just keep improving.

One of our greatest successes at Radar has been the way our reporter network has come to life. A network of people of all ages, ranging from 18 to 70 years old, all incredibly enthusiastic about reporting. Just within 5 months, their knowledge around writing and interviewing increased massively. And today, they report as if they were journalists. But still, they tell their story in their own way. 

Often journalism involves simply going to a particular place, for a particular time, and picking one or two stories. Sometimes there is a follow-up story. What is unique here is that you have a reporter who stays in that community. They have the opportunity to report about the issues that matter to them. They tell stories about what is going on in their communities but also put forward community-based solutions.

Day-to-day reporting can be exhausting, and sometimes it doesn’t yield tangible results. But when you’re constantly moving within a community and reporting on particular issues, real recommendations can be pushed and steps are taken. 

At its core, citizen and community reporting is solutions-based, and with a good relationship with our partners (The Malaria Consortium), commitments can and have been made. These reporters have become influential in their communities. People look up to them, they ask them for advice. That’s what the Beyond the Bite project has made our reporting network become. They are experts in their own communities.

They have not only grown in confidence but in conviction and capacity. They now feel like their contribution will go a long way in changing the narrative in their various communities. They are empowered with the skills to speak to others and be champions of change.