Can a middle class, Indian woman understand the life of an upper class, black male, a lower class, coloured man, or even a middle class, white woman? The truth is – we can’t. Working on this basis, the question remains whether it is possible for journalists to adequately represent those other than themselves?

Issues of representation are rife in media studies and a plausible solution to the concern “who can talk for who” comes in the shape of citizen journalism – a journalism produced by the public.

Professor Fackson Banda, senior Unesco official in Paris, launched his book, Citizen Journalism and Democracy in Africa, last night at the Absa Africa Night Dinner.

Banda’s book provides an analysis of “the nature of citizen journalism in Africa and its impact on the institutions and processes of democracy”. The book addresses the impact information and communication technologies (ICTs) have on practices of citizen journalism, looking at issues such as operational, contextual and strategic aspects.

The institutionalisation of citizen journalism is also addressed, taking a look at the “level of uptake of citizen journalism by conventional media”. As the title suggests, the book addresses the “democratic value” of this fast developing form of journalism. Banda engages this issue by looking at aspects such as “ownership of communication channels, civic participation, access and accessibility” and others.

Citizen Journalism and Democracy in Africa couldn’t have come at a more relevant time. The book answers pressing questions often asked at conferences such as these what methodology does citizen journalism use? What themes are emerging within it? What impacts do globalisation and democratisation have on citizen journalism? What is the future for citizen journalism?

The book launch, hosted by Happy Nsthingila, will be held at the 1820 Settlers’ Monument last night. Dignitaries such as His Excellency John Aqyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana attended the launch.  

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