The increasing use of new media technologies has serious consequences for journalism. Besides the rather obvious falling newspaper circulations and consumption of radio and television, technology has seen off numerous journalism jobs. This seemingly obvious consequences of technology means newsrooms and classrooms have to continually innovate to survive.

Even though the employment of technology has positive implications for media and training, and improves the quality of journalism due to the speed of collection, production and distribution of journalistic products, particularly information/news, it introduces new problems in society. Issues of job losses, journalism education, and the relationship between industry and institutions of higher learning all come into focus when critically looking at the application of technology. Yet, journalism education continues to grow.

This is based on the fact that many universities and other institutions of higher learning have recently introduced journalism courses to cater for the demand from students and even industry.

This means that journalism is still highly valued despite the notion that people now rely less on traditional channels of information distribution. This arises because people particularly in Africa continue to rely a lot on ‘old’ media, more specifically radio, for their information. Given the digital divides, and sometimes differentials in qualities of use of ‘new’ media, newspapers, radio and television are important and the role in political and democratic process should be appreciated and celebrated.

But how can we journalism training more relevant to Africans and African students? Is ‘de-Westernisation’ or ‘Africanisation’ of curricula the answer? Some suggested that answers be sought elsewhere. China was cited as a good example.

Although this was the topic of discussion in a research paper session on Pan-African Perspectives, it was not clear whether such a move was possible given the acceleration of globalisation, and internationalisation of education. Even then, it was important that students engage more with issues related to Africa.

Published in Bloggers
Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:39

One practice, many tongues

During the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) many educators have noted how funding, infrastructure and training students for the workplace are chief challenges. However, for Professor Laurent Charles Boyomo Assala, the struggle of communicating to compete on the global stage is the major concern.

Published in Bloggers
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 10:26

New syllabus for reporting Africa

Former UNESCO chair of Media and Democracy at Rhodes University, Prof Fackson Banda presented a paper at the World Journalism Educators Conference on Monday addressing the challenges of developing a syllabus for reporting Africa.

Now a UNESCO program officer in Paris, Banda has returned to Rhodes to share the outcome of a UNESCO project to develop a syllabus for reporting Africa. He impressed upon WJEC the following needs:

  • The need to interrogate epistemology and ontology issues
  • The need to interrogate new teaching methods
  • The need to assess the impact of training in Africa.

Banda said that to report on Africa aspiring journalists needed four levels of orientation. 

Firstly, students needed to be rooted in the historical context of Africa from an African perspective.  Secondly, they needed a self reflective ethical orientation using African morality and philosophy.

The issue of an Africana, as opposed to African, came up recognizing the need to be able to generate modules for training Africa related issue anywhere in the world. 

A third input required a critical understanding the developmental context.  Historically, under the label “development communication”. This meant imparting development related messaged that would inform the masses and define direction.

Today, said Banda, it meant learning how to speak to an engaged citizenry.  Training needed to prepare students for the task of managing messages in culturally and linguistically diverse forms.

A lot of the original thinking came out of a WJEC preparatory colloquium chaired by Banda last year at Rhodes.  The aim of the colloquium was threefold, namely to:

  • Affirm and strengthen pan African intellectual contributions in articulating a shared agenda for African journalism education in the global educational public sphere;
  • Validate and accentuate, through rigorous African peer review, individual and collective scholarly analysis and evaluation of African journalistic traditions and cultures and how these influence journalism education and research across sub-Saharan Africa; and thus;
  • Outline and propagate a shared agenda or identity for African journalism training within and without Africa.  The colloquium affirmed and strengthened individual and collective contributions to the field of African journalism education.  Through this colloquium, said Banda in his introductory remarks last year, scholars were helping to frame the agenda for conceptualizing, researching, teaching, and practicing journalism in Africa. A model African journalism Training curriculum has been developed.
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