The 14th World Editor's Forum in Cape Town kicked off this morning with
roundtable discussions on three pressing issues for global print media – press
freedom, new digital technologies and attracting new young readers, writes www.journalism.co.za correspondents.
The Annual Press Freedom Round Table saw a panel of experts
discussing ways to develop press freedom in Africa.
Executive Director of Punch publications in Nigeria, Azubuike Ishiekwene, said
African media was poorly resourced and managed newsrooms, under-trained
journalists, weak economies, weak media regulatory environments, sloppy ethics
and low levels of transparency.
Ishiekwene said that newsrooms would have to come up with
creative solutions to overcome these problems, including the sharing of
resources, which would cut costs and allow for investment in training of
Kwame Karikari, executive director of the Media Foundation
for West Africa, argued that journalists
should do their jobs with "conviction, purpose and mission" and not involve
themselves in corrupt relationships.
He also said that journalists should be watchdogs not only
of the state, but all institutions involved in governance, including the donor
community. "There is no dignity in being a lapdog."
Bill Keller, executive director of The New York Times, said
journalists had a "profound, self-imposed responsibility to be fair, skeptical
and true" to their watchdog role.
Editor of the Southern Africa Report Raymond Louw spoke on
the prevalence of "insult" and criminal defamation laws in African legislation.
The ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Declaration of Table Mountain', adopted by WAN and WEF at the beginning of
the conference, calls for a global abolishment of these laws, some of which
still exist in Western legislation.
The Young Readers Round Table discussion pressed home the
point that newspapers must reach the newest generation of young people with
authenticity and a sense of engagement as they are the future of newspapers.
The founder of READRight, a
prize-winning insert in South
Africa's Sunday Times, Lisa Blakeway, said
the lesson was simple. "Your content needs to be created by young people, for
young people, placed where they want it. Give them what they want, let them
tell you how."
This publication saw the production of 27 stories produced
by children for children. Authors were selected from all nine provinces of South Africa
and were under the supervision of a children's writer and photographer.
Young readers are no longer consumer, but are engaged,
intelligent and need their voice heard.
Print media should see this as an opportunity, said session moderator,
FranÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â§ois Dufor; founder and Editor L'Atcu France.
The Digital Media Round Table, focused on the possible ways
newspapers could adapt to the changing media environment.
Matthew Buckland, general manager of New Media at the Mail
& Guardian Online and moderator of the round table said:
"The question is how publishers can harness these challenges
in order to be successful in the future media environment. There have been
developments in the citizen media forum, which are posing real competition to
traditional media. There is a radical difference from the media environment of
10 years ago."
The challenge is not so much the new platforms in
themselves, but the way in which they are embraced, capturing new audiences on
these various platforms, he said.