Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu provided words of inspiration to journalists and academics at the closing ceremony of the World Journalism Educator's Congress and Highway Africa Conference.

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all," he told delegates. Tutu became a signatory to the Table Mountain Declaration calling on governments in Africa to abolish insult laws and criminal defamation laws in Africa. These laws are seen as among the chief impediments preventing free and open criticism of African governments through the vehicles of the press.

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Thursday, 08 July 2010 16:06

Gillmor's learnings from Africa (video)

Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media and journalism educator from Arizona State University chaired sessions on entrepreneurial journalism. He speaks about the importance of mobile to Africa's media future and cautions about over investing social media such as Facebook.

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Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:42

WJEC 2 is a smashing success

The World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) has been a smashing success, organisers and delegates declared yesterday. The congress, the second of its kind, had the objective of education and networking for journalists and journalism educators from around the world.

 

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Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:35

Tutu: “Tell it like it is!”

We need you [journalists] to dream dreams. We need you to remind us of where we came from. We need you to remind us of the ideals that have driven us. Let us make every day a World Cup day in South Africa!” declared Archbishop Desmond Tutu in closing this year’s Highway Africa and World Journalism Education Congress. “

For goodness sake, tell it as it is!” he implored the audience, “we are not going to make it with uninspired and uninspiring teachers.” Lifting the already merry mood with a pastor’s oratory, Tutu concluded, “I only see our country as a scintillating success waiting to happen. Help it to happen.”  The archbishop was sweet icing on top of a wildly successful four days of several simultaneously organised events by the Rhodes School of Journalism and Media Studies.

“It’s become a bit of a festival, not just a conference,” grinned  Prof. Guy Berger of Rhodes University, before a manful attempt to add his vuvuzela voice to the chorus of positivity emanating from the closing ceremony earlier.  Buoyant, Berger encouraged delegates to the Highway Africa Conference and the World Journalism Education Congress leave with some questions.

“Is South Africa, Africa? Is Grahamstown South Africa? Is Rhodes University Grahamstown?” Berger asked, before adding with more sober joy that “we weren’t perfect, but we showed it is possible.” He got a standing ovation.  

“Up to a few minutes ago I thought Guy could do it all,” joked Joe Foote over Berger’s spluttering vuvuzela-blowing skills.   But he continued in similar spirit in the WJEC report-back. “It’s impossible to give because I have no idea what the impact of the conference,” he said, “it all depends on you [the delegates].”

It is my feeling that journalism education is much stronger today than it was four days ago… Just the energy going outward is going to help us all,” he continued, before asking delegates from the various continents to stand in recognition of the conference’s diversity, extolling African in particular.

 “You will never know how much you have contributed,” Foote said about Africa. “From the collective grateful hearts in this room, we salute South Africa for all they have done to make this such a successful meeting.”

Chris Kabwato whom Berger had dubbed ‘Mr Highway Africa’ lauded his boss’ leadership, noting that conferences, “usually transient”, need unyielding impetus to survive. “You have given us a vision,” he said, “this sustainability is your vision.”

The uniqueness of Highway Africa is that it is 14 years old, and we keep getting better Kabwato said,  adding with pleasure that his worries now included too small a venue.

“How do we stop people coming to Grahamstown? It’s a lovely nightmare, I assure you.” He admired the WJEC for their “madness to agree to hosting two parallel events,” and bid the delegates farewell with great vigour. “Thank you and bon voyage!”

Professor Jane Duncan also presented a report on a “very very successful” Digital Citizen’s Indaba, which aimed to “empower ordinary citizens to become digital citizens.” The enriching experience was further augmented by the WJEC and Highway Africa, meaning that events included “very interesting cross-pollinations” of thought.

“We have definitely achieved our objectives this year,” she said. 

Nomasonto Ndlovu, the Global Manager of Business Tourism in South Africa, said South Africa’s “almost irresistible” offer of hospitality was demonstrated by the FIFA World Cup, “showing, not telling, what South Africa is about.”

“The international press has been singing our praises,” she said, and encouraged the delegates to do likewise, using the most powerful medium: word of mouth.

“And of course digital,” Ndlovu joked, “I have to show I was listening! Spread the word, spread the good news: that South Africa is open for business!”

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Wednesday, 07 July 2010 17:25

Who's afraid of big bad (face)book?

An earlier post pinpointed some of the challenges that surfaced in a WJEC syndicate discussion around the topic of social media(SM) and the implications for journalism educators (J-Eds). But as everyone knows it is one thing to  ask the questions; it is often something quite different to find answers.

However, an attempt was made to suggest a way forward if JEs are going to recognise SM as a worthy ingredient in  any well-rounded  journalism training recipe. To this end then Julie Posetti, who had chaired the syndicate, presented a list of six recommendations.  While not exhaustive and somewhat skeletal (they await further fleshing out when the final syndicate report  appears  at a later stage), they do nevertheless present current J-Eds with something to chew on. So what do J-Eds need to do?

1.    Accept that as a result of new media developments , SM should  increasingly be considered an essential component in any journalism training initiative, even where lack of connectivity  seems to pose problems, and especially in view of the fact that the ubiquitous cellphone has levelled the playing fields.

2.    Such acceptance requires that J-Eds themselves, although perhaps not directly involved in training, have an abligation to keep  abreast of SM developments.

3.    The onus would appear to fall on J-Eds to find ways of embedding SM practice into aspects of the so-called ‘traditional’ journalism curriculum.

4.    J-Eds need to be sensitive to the debate surrounding journalism ethics and professionalism especially as it pertains to the use of SM in journalism, what Posetti calls “managing the Personal/Professional divide”.

5.    Be prepared to teach and support students, through SM use,  in building networks of professional contacts that extend beyond  friends and local news.

6.    Explore the use of SM as a vehicle to get students excited about  topics which interest them and engage in, and collaborate with, local communities.

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Wednesday, 07 July 2010 11:57

Book launches for Africa

A collection of scholarly works on media policy reforms in Southern Africa has been launched at Rhodes University in South Africa.

The book, Media Policy in a Changing Southern Africa  was edited by two Zimbabwean scholars, Dr Dumisani Moyo, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Literature and Languages at Wits University and Wallace Chuma from the University of Cape Town.

The book seeks to bridge the gap in the policy and regulatory sphere, as not so much has been written about in the region.

“This book is an attempt to review media reforms that have taken place in the last 20 years,” said Dr Moyo.

The book traces the media policy reforms that have taken place in the six Southern African countries namely Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, since the Windhoek Declaration of 1991.

“A lot has happened since and there is not much that has written about by African scholars. What we are doing is sort of taking stock of what has happened since the broadcasting charter was drawn up in Windhoek,” added Dr Moyo.

The book is ideal for those in media policy advocacy as well as for students and the public in general. A major strength of the book is its focus on policy-making across media sectors, including broadcasting, print and the new information and communication technologies. It represents an effort to bring to debate on media policy reform back to the centre, to initiate a stock taking exercise.

Another book also launched during the ongoing WJEC here is, Challenges and Perspectives of Digital Migration for African Media by Professor Guy Berger, head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.

The book sets out the issues involved in digital transformation in broadcast media from the viewpoint of African media stakeholders and especially, community radio stations. It aims to correct widespread misconceptions that analogue radio will cease to exist in the next five years as part of ‘digital migration’.

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Wednesday, 07 July 2010 11:09

CNI networks global student journalists

College Newsnet International (CNI) is exciting, because it gives global exposure to students. “Student journalism is the purest, freshest and most exciting voice out there,” says Mary Cardaras, head of Digital Media and Communications at the New England Institute of Art in Boston.

CNI is a global approach to the practice of journalism – by students for students. Cardaras is partnering with Dr Robyn Goodman, head of Communication Studies at Alfred University in New York, to create an online global website. Here, student journalists can submit news articles, photographs, podcasts, videos and cartoons, with their news attracting global audiences and international exposure. The website is set to launch in September 2010 but, student journalists are encouraged to register before this, so they can submit their work when CNI makes its much anticipated debut.

Cardaras modelled CNI on CNN’s World Report which welcomes viewpoints from TV networks across the world. Its approach allows student journalists from all over the world to see what’s going on in other countries and continents. This international forum will change perceptions about countries outside Western Europe and North America and provide journalists with information to learn, share and connect. Cardaras told Open Source, that CNI can eradicate some of the stereotypes of the African continent. “Africa gets bad press in the Western world. The presence and voice of Africa on CNI will change the perception to something positive and exciting,” she says.

Cardaras explains how the creation of a global platform, to showcase student work, will change the perception of journalism itself. “Students have a passionate, no-nonsense approach to journalism. They are still learning and have the presence of mentors to keep their work responsible.” Cardaras stresses that CNI is not citizen journalism. Instead, stories are vetted before online publication and student journalists have the potential to mimic real-life journalistic practices, “CNI will be structured around being fair and balanced,” says Cardaras. Cardaras is hoping CNI will attract giant media employers like CNN, BBC, the New York Times and other publications and networks from around the world.

The fresh student voice is usually hidden by big networks which dominate the airwaves and online reach. Cardaras’ brainchild is likely to push journalism into new directions where stereotypes are broken and where connecting teaches the world about the world. Student journalists are taking over via the digital revolution.

Visit www.collegenewsnet.org or, follow on http://twitter.com/cniproject.   

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Wednesday, 07 July 2010 10:45

J-curricula faces tough tests

The panel discussion, on driving the future of journalism curricula was described by panel coordinator Kaarle Nordenstren. as a “panorama pointing out hotspots”. To date, 54 journalism schools from 44 countries have expressed interest in adapting the Unesco model journalism curriculum.

Michael Cobden, one of the authors of the Unesco curriculum, said that it aims to promote “de-westernisation” and “fight against developments from our baser instincts,” such as “the insinuation of advertising and marketing” and the “tabloidisation of journalism.” He wouldn’t “tinker” too much with the content, but nevertheless mentioned that “there is a lot of rethinking to be done”.

“The [syllabus is the] best part, as far as I’m concerned. Academics tend to guard their syllabuses jealously.” he said.

Launched three years ago, the updated curriculum reflects an “emphasis on intellectual knowledge and development,” with “a special emphasis on writing and reporting throughout the programme” said Cobden. He noted its generic imperative, pointing out that many journalism schools have been “scrambling to adopt their programmes” to technological changes, but “might be better off reinventing them”.

“I must say, Unesco can be proud of the contribution to journalism education and to the public,” he concluded.

Asia’s contribution was next, as Violet Valdez, from Ateneo de Manila University, presented a “hybrid learning programme” in her curriculum for Asian journalists that has courses given on campus and online. She acknowledged, that Unesco provides a “valuable benchmark” with its project, and that the proposed Asian curriculum reflects the two principles emphasised by Cobden.

Asian adaptation
Guo Ke, of Shanghai International Studies University, provoked laughter when he joked that China’s 650 programmes are “a huge amount”. He described China as having a “dilemma between fast paced media and the slow catch-up” with traditional media education methods.

“Due to rigid controls in China, reforms can be slow,” he said, and there is a “growing difficulty to maintain the curriculum.” Challenges included, “English journalism education programmes finding it difficult to identify themselves as a real academic discipline.” When asked whether he was happy with the state of journalism education in his region, Ke replied, “That’s a very tough question. We still have problems but there is progress. If you really want an answer I’d say yes, I’m happy, but there’s still a big but.”

Latin America, often overlooked in these discussions, according to Nordenstreng has, like China, had “phenomenal growth in the last 30 years” in journalism education. Sophia 

Virginia Moreira, of Rio de Janeiro State University, was nevertheless dissatisfied with journalism education in Brazil. “We mostly have curriculum problems. I think the curricula are very old; we don’t keep pace with the students learning. They are struggling, debating a lot of things that they wouldn’t have in real life,” she said. Cultural variations hamper the only Portuguese speaking country in Latin America, since not being able to read in Spanish “makes a lot of difference” for collaborative efforts.

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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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