Thursday, February 03, 2005

Learning how to report on the Information Society

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Learning how to report on the information society
By Remmy Nweke ACCRA-

Twenty West African journalists have received intensive training on how to report on the information society in a three day course ahead of the African regional preparatory meeting for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).A number of non governmental organisations collaborated to provide a workshop entitled “Reporting the Information Society” at the International Press Centre in Accra.

Welcoming participants at the workshop, Kwami Ahiabenu, president of PenPlusBytes, said his Accra based organisation seeks to empower media professionals through the use of ICT tools in advancing the work of journalism.Ahiabenu also said PenPlusBytes activities involved knowledge sharing among journalists interested in leveraging the use of ICT in advancing their work and society.He guided them through common ICT terminology such as internet governance, information society, digital divide, the internet media and ICT convergence, saying the training would place participants in a better position to create a greater understanding of Information Society issues.

Desiree Miloshevic of Afilias, a global registry service, led a discussion on internet domain names, the domain market place and the current status of African country code top level domain names (ccTLDs).While Steven Lang, editor of the Highway Africa News Agency (HANA), made a presentation on the aims and objectives of the agency. He explained how HANA has been covering WSIS prepcoms, the first summit meeting in Geneva in 2003 as well as other ICT related events.Sunday Folayan, managing director of Nigerian internet service provider, Skannet gave a talk on “Africa and the issue of access”. Kieran Baker and Anne-Rachel Inne from the Internet Corporation on Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) explained the role of their organisation in terms of internet governance and outreach programs. Mouhamet Diop, a Senegalese businessman who is also an ICANN director, made a presentation on ”What is AfriNIC (the African regional internet registry) and Internet Protocol version 6”.

Journalists participating in the workshop came from Ghana, Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire. They were pleased with the content and the standard of discussions in the course.Charity Binka, assistant chief editor at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), said that it is important for journalists to know about developments in the field of information technology.“Although, we are quite few as women and being part of providing information, but I believe no one is going to give us that on a platter of gold. We need to be able to build our capacity, position ourselves as journalists. It does not matter if you’re a man or woman. We must be able to manage our time and position ourselves to the position we want,” she said, emphasising the importance of learning about ICTs and how they can be efficiently used in the information society.

John Awe, Lagos bureau chief of the Nigerian Tribune, and Segun Oruame editor of ITEdge, agreed with her and described the training as useful and good for the media development in the region.

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