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
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 10:22

Why Twitter should be taught (video)

University of Canberra, senior Journalism lecturer and researcher of social media, Julie Posetti discusses the responsibility of journalism schools to prepare students on the professional and ethical use of social media tools for audience engagement and how to critically analyse them.

Published in Bloggers
Monday, 05 July 2010 16:31

Media still in danger ...

WJEC2 and Highway Africa conferences kicked off with the realisation that countries in Africa are still grappling with problems related to freedom of expression and information. Whereas the consolidation of democracy in many African states has expanded political space, and enhanced media developments, there are huge differences between countries that have adopted freedom of information and those that have not.

This was the exposition made by Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in Africa, Advocate Pansy Tlakula. Tlakula posited that while the media has made significant contributions to democracy, it still suffers serious impediments as a consequence of laws that hinder press freedom. This became even clearer when Mathatha Tsedu, head of Media24 Training Academy in South Africa, recounted the recent killing of Rwandese journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage by people alleged to be state security operatives or close to those in power. Although the claim is yet to be verified, Tsedu asked Rwandan president Paul Kagame to expedite investigation into the murder which has recently shocked the media fraternity not only in Rwanda but also in countries where journalists are increasingly in danger especially because of their investigative work.

So far, the conference has been a rich ground for discussions into the application of media in democratic processes, and whether journalism is a boon or indeed a danger to democracy. In the Democracy and Media Innovations in Africa syndicate, for instance, it was noted that media information may not always aid democracy. In some instances, it may lead to apathy where citizens feel demotivated from engage with politics or politicians. What’s more it may create a disconnect between the consumers of information as voters and the producers of information. This is based on the notion that the elite seek to hog power by using the media for their own selfish interests.

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The former president of the Republic of Ghana (2001 to 2009) speaks candidly on the state of journalism in Africa. He said journalists should learn to respect the humanity of others. Kufuor was special guest at the second World Journalism Educator's Congress held in Grahamstown, South Africa from 4-7 July 2010.

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WJEC2's opening keynote speaker and African Union Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Advocate Pansy Tlakula calls on African journalists to become au fait with legal instruments to safeguard public freedom of expression and the media as a safeguard to democracy.

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