Some 1500 editors and publishers are expected to descend on Cape Town
this weekend for the 60th World Newspaper Congress and the 14th World
Editors’ Forum, write Judy Lelliott, Jackie Bischof and Kim Hawkey.

It is the first time that the annual congress and forum are being held in an African country. President Thabo Mbeki, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Deputy President of the ANC Jacob Zuma are among the high-profile speakers.

The annual meetings provide an opportunity for editors and publishers to discuss international trends, strategies and solutions for the news business. WAN’s theme for 2007 is Shaping the Future of the Newspaper, whereas WEF will be looking at Quality Journalism in the Digital Age.

The conference will last four days, starting on Sunday with three joint round table discussions on Press Freedom, Digital Media and the Young Reader.

The joint official opening ceremony will take place on Monday, followed by the presentation of the Golden Pen of Freedom award in honour of bravery in journalism. The opening ceremony will be addressed by Mbeki, as well as the president of the Newspaper Association of South Africa Trevor Ncube and the president of the World Association of Newspapers Gavin O’Reilly. The Golden Pen will be awarded by the president of the World Editors Forum George Brock.

Later in the day the first Newsroom Barometer will be presented. The barometer is an international survey of newsroom strategies, integrated newsrooms and the future of journalism.

One hundred African editors, 40 from South Africa, are expected to attend the events. South Afican speakers include the Mail and Guardian’s Ferial Haffajee, the Sunday Times’s Mondli Makhanya; Mathatha Tsedu, editor of the City Press and chairman of The African Editors Forum (TAEF); and Jovial Rantao Editor of the Sunday Independent.

As hosts, African editors will have the opportunity to place African media industry issues on the agenda. The session on Reporting Africa for Africans and the world will examine the idea that fair and accurate journalism can’t neglect 900 million Africans and is aimed at improving coverage of Africa.

African editors will also have the opportunity to make contacts with their international counterparts. Delegates will have informal networking opportunities at the various joint social events, starting with the Welcome Party at the historical Castle of Good Hope and finishing off with a gala dinner at the Nederburg Wine Estate.

The World Newspaper Congress (WAN) is an international media organisation with the aim of defending and promoting press freedom and the economic independence of newspapers. The World Editors’ Forum (WEF), which was formed under WAN, focuses on issues directly relevant to editors and the challenges they face.