SUNDAY 1.30 – 3.00
: Edward Chitsulo

Note: Click on the title to read the full paper. Click on the author’s name to read their biography.

Challenges in Training Journalists in our Societies: The Case of Development Communication for Social Change
Dr. Karambu Ringera, University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Development communication for social change (DCSC) has gained some ground and recognition in the last few years. However, the practice of DCSC in Africa in general and Kenya specifically is almost nil as teachers and practitioners continue to rely on old models and approaches. The thesis of this paper is that there are a number of constraints to applying DCSC approaches that reflect a new thinking. This new thinking needs to be geared towards a more Afro-centric approach to development communication. The paper argues that constraints are premised on systemic and socio-cultural structures, relations, and processes that drive dependency-laden approaches to development communication processes. Donor agencies and the models of DC they adopt, seem to be disengaged from the context on the ground. I posit that the reason for this is that although these organizations claim participatory approaches to DC, they actually operate from an ideological framework that reproduces exclusion of the very people they say they serve  poor people and women in particular those for whom development communication hopes to lead to self-reliance. An additional reason for the lack of impact of current DC interventions is a lack gender-sensitive, human rights and social justice considerations. Furthermore, they fail to provide an environment for the very critical characteristics they claim their DC approaches embody: participation for the marginalized people in a DC process that is inclusive, participatory, emancipative, and collaborative: one that gives voice or helps create a voice for the people. The justification for the focus of my study lies in the fact that the current global engine running development is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This study examines deficiencies in current development communication initiatives and approaches, by focusing on the MDGs and Kenya’s Vision 2030, and implications of this to current instruction in our schools of journalism.

Missing the Beat: Relevance of Community Media in Election Coverage in Namibia
Emily Brown, Polytechnic of Namibia, Windhoek.

In this Paper an attempt is made to show how the mainstream print media could move from largely capital-city based reportage to a more national approach to the coverage of  the electorate just prior to the National and Presidential elections in Namibia. In 2004 the Department Media Technology at the Polytechnic of Namibia piloted its first Campus Media outlet called the Echoes News Agency. Over a period of ten weeks just prior to the elections in 2004 journalism students spent time in nine of Namibia’s 13 regions doing focus group research around the issues which the people (constituencies) deemed most important. The students also made appointments with the local councillors to determine what they saw as the concerns of their constituencies. The Pilot Study revealed the need for people’s participation and access to expression in Namibia’s democratic processes. The research.  which resulted in stories being carried (one page) in The Namibian English daily newspaper over a period of 10 weeks, added value to the predominantly capital city focus of The Namibian. This community journalism project is now being replicated, since Namibia will be holding national and presidential elections in November 2009. As in 2004 the stories will be carried in The Namibian newspaper. Through this paper, I wish to illustrate how community media can influence coverage and set the agenda in mainstream media. Evidence such as the results of the Echoes election coverage serves to indicate that community journalism does not have to be obscured by the mainstream media, and the Paper ought to help educators identify approaches which would give community journalism its rightful place in the world of media.

Introducing an Educational Experiment into Journalists Training: The Information Sciences & Techniques Study Centre (CESTI)’s Rural Trip  – Dakar
Read the paper in French.
Dominique François Mendy, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal.

Relevant training for journalists can contribute to the deconstruction of certain thought patterns, which extend reductive and negative representations of rural areas and rural media. Furthermore, it can enable regional news to be better addressed. Senegal has established a mentality which considers the centre, Dakar, the only place worthy of interest because of the concentration there of administrative, economic and political power. The periphery (the rural area), in this relationship, is perceived as secondary or even insignificant, not only because of its remoteness but also because of the insufficiency or absence of basic infrastructure leading to local development. This disparaging representation is consolidated from a journalistic point of view by the establishment of most communication means (written press, radio, television and Internet) in cities, to the point where it justifies the reluctance of most journalists to launch their careers in areas far from the capital or choosing to spend their professional lives there. However, journalists should move in diverse social and cultural circles and to have an approach free from prejudice or prior conditioning. In view of this, is it not then necessary to make such a requirement part of the training curriculum if we wish to make success possible in the future? What is the Information Sciences & Techniques Study Centre’s educational strategy for this? What are the expected results and what results have been obtained? The 2009 trip to the region of Kedougou (600kms from Dakar) was chosen as an example because of its economic potential (mining resources), the source of recent social unrest, and above all, for its ethnic and cultural diversity.
Read the abstract in French.

The Journalism, Democracy and Development Course
Rod Amner, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

The Journalism, Democracy and Development (JDD) course was developed at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University five years ago in response to a perceived lack of congruence between the “academic” and “vocational” streams of our undergraduate curriculum. The JDD is premised on the idea that differing conceptions of democracy and development have implications for the way journalism is conceived, organised and produced, which in turn shapes journalistic form and content. By exploring this relationship between ideas about journalism’s role and the assumptions and practices of a number of different “journalisms”, JDD aims to bring together through critique  the Media Studies and media production components of the third year curriculum into something we refer to as “critical media production”. Every year, around 110-120 students are divided into 8-10 multimedia groups and challenged to produce journalism on a theme (for example, education, the environment, fatherhood, crime) that will contribute in some way to the goals of democratization and development. Over the past five years they have experimented with “reformist” approaches to journalism (like investigative journalism and public/civic journalism), as well as with more alternative approaches (for example, radical and advocacy journalism, participatory/citizens journalism, development journalism). These approaches are predicated upon critiques of mainstream journalism, while offering concrete ideas and techniques for alternative practice. Drawing on staff curriculum development processes and on student evaluations and essays, this presentation will explore some of the strengths and weaknesses of this course over time. While we have had to curb some of our original ambition for the course, there is considerable evidence to show that it has challenged many students to rethink their assumptions about values, ethics and social responsibility in their professional practice, and to begin to engage with issues related to the meanings of citizenship, identity and nation-building in the current context.