Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2 Drone-Journalism Programs Seek Federal Approval to Resume Flying

Two fledgling programs created to teach journalism students how to use drones in their reporting are applying for permits so they can resume operating unmanned aircraft outdoors, their directors said this week. Both programs received cease-and-desist letters from the Federal Aviation Administration last month.

Matt Waite, of the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and Scott Pham, of the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, said on Monday that they were in the early stages of what will probably be a process taking months to obtain a certificate of authorization, or COA. Public agencies, such as police departments, that want to fly drones outdoors are required to apply for the FAA permits.

The drone-journalism programs fall within the "public agencies" category, an FAA spokesman, Les Dorr, said on Tuesday.

"The requirement for public universities to obtain a certificate of authorization is no big secret because approximately a quarter of the applications we get for COAs come from academia," Mr. Dorr said.

The freeze on outdoor flights triggered retooling for both university journalism programs, including the cancellation of a drone journalism class Mr. Pham had scheduled for the fall semester. It has also set in motion a re-examination of both the feasibility of drone-based reporting projects and the missions of the programs.

"In terms of journalism, we are completely on hold until the COA process is done," Mr. Pham said. "Once the COA process is finished, it [the permit] is extremely restrictive in terms of where you can fly and how you can fly. There are questions about what kind of journalism might be practiced post-COA."

The Nebraska and Missouri drone-journalism programs were established in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Armed with small grants, Mr. Waite and Mr. Pham have been working with students to develop the technology and skills needed to deploy drones for reporting on a broad spectrum of stories, including those about natural disasters, agricultural trends, and political protests.

During the past year, they have produced video reports on a major Midwestern drought, a prairie fire, and the migration of snow geese.

Mr. Waite and Mr. Pham previously operated their programs' drones under rules set for hobbyists. That meant keeping the aircraft below 400 feet and well away from airports and people. Drones were always kept in the line of sight.

"I understood the COA process," Mr. Pham said. "I had made a decision not to apply for one because I felt like it was really intended for organizations not like my own. You look up people who have COA applications, and they are largely unambiguous government agencies—fire departments, police agencies, border patrol."

The programs' work, chronicled via their blogs, attracted international attention as interest in the use of drones for security and commercial purposes has exploded.

It also caught the eye of the FAA. In a letter dated July 10, the agency wrote that the programs were operating drones "without proper authorization" and could face "legal enforcement action."

Receiving the letter was a "little nerve-racking," said Mr. Waite, adding that he had not flown any of the program's three operational drones since it landed in his mailbox.

The COA-application process requires applicants to state what type of drone will be flown, when it will be flown, and where it will be flown, Mr. Dorr said, adding that the priority is safety.

The terms limit journalistic applicability, according to Mr. Pham and Mr. Waite.

"It is pretty restrictive," Mr. Waite said. "It is sort of kind of antithetical to journalism. Unless you know how to divine a news event at a location months in advance, it really is not going to work for doing the regular kind of journalism we are familiar with."

Still, he intends to carry on with his research, and possibly conduct flights in the Cornhuskers' indoor football-practice facility.

"It slows us down a little bit, but I am a pretty positive person and I am viewing this as a learning opportunity," Mr. Waite said. "I feel like I have the responsibility to get one [a permit] and write about the process and share this information as far and as wide as I can so people can learn about it as I have learned about it."

As part of his response to the FAA's permitting requirement, Mr. Waite and the Drone Journalism Lab will also convene what they believe is the first drone-journalism conference, from October 24 to 26.

"We know from having talked to a number of professors around the country that they are interested in doing this but haven't gone down any roads yet, and we have a lot of information to share," Mr. Waite said. "We thought the best way to do that is to bring people out here and talk about these things."

source : http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/2-drone-journalism-programs-seek-federal-approval-to-resume-flying/45653?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en 

International Institute for ICT Journalism

NIGER - Communiqué de la Maison de la presse

Communiqué de la Maison de la presse

La Maison de la Presse constate que depuis quelques jours, certains journalistes profitent du climat politique actuel pour se livrer à des commentaires qui frisent la diversion au sein des communautés nigériennes.

Cette attitude ne fera que raviver le chaudron politique du Niger.

La Maison de la presse appelle les hommes du métier à plus de retenu et de professionnalisme et au respect de l'éthique et de la déontologie, car le journaliste n'invente pas. Il raconte.

La Maison de la presse invite les journalistes à jouer pleinement leur rôle, mais en évitant, sous le prétexte de la liberté de presse, de jeter de l'huile dans le chaudron politique nigérien déjà assez bouillant

Fait à Niamey, le 27 août 2013,

Le Président la Maison de la Presse

Maison Presse<maison.presse@yahoo.fr>;




International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, August 26, 2013

African Elections Project Calls for Peace After Elections Petition Verdict

The African Elections Project (AEP) is calling on Ghanaians to respect the decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana on the 2012 elections petition filed by the New Patriotic Party, as they deepen Ghana’s democratic dispensation and serve as a beacon for peaceful electoral process where the rule of law is adopted instead of violence.

After nearly 8 months of the election petition hearing by the Supreme Court of Ghana, the highest court of the land will finally give judgment on the election petition. It is therefore paramount that the peace this country has enjoyed for many years is safeguarded and maintained by all relevant stakeholders at this critical period where bottled tensions can easily flare up with the release of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

AEP through its work across the continent has been a witness to the ravages of elections-induced and elections-related wars in neigbouring African countries such as Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, just to mention a few. It would therefore be highly irresponsible on our part to trigger the buttons that would fuel tensions after the release of the verdict and cause unnecessary mayhem and violence.

Similarly, we humbly appeal to the two major political parties and their supporters in general to exercise restraint, display magnanimity in words and actions either in winning or losing, and ultimately protect the peace in the country which is the bedrock and bulwark of our freedom and liberty.

The AEP, headquartered in Ghana is run by the International Institute of ICT journalism. The project leverages on free, fair and unbiased media and the crucial role they play in elections such as providing impartial information that do not inflame the passions of the electorate. The rationale behind the project is to take specific steps needed to avert possible crisis in elections in Africa. African Elections Project (www.africanelections.org)  has covered elections in 13 African countries to date.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Announcing 2014-2015 NED Democracy Fellowships

Apply Now for Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowships at the National Endowment for Democracy The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. invites applications for fellowships in 2014-2015.

This federally-funded program enables democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change. Dedicated to international exchange, this five-month, residential program offers a collegial environment for fellows to reflect on their experiences and consider best practices; conduct independent research and writing; engage with colleagues and counterparts in the United States; and build ties with a global network of democracy advocates.

The program is intended primarily to support practitioners and scholars from developing and aspiring democracies; distinguished scholars from established democracies are also eligible to apply. Projects may focus on the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural aspects of democratic development and may include a range of methodologies and approaches. Fellows devote full time to their projects and receive a monthly fellowship payment, health insurance, travel assistance at the beginning and end of the fellowship, and research support.

Awardees may not receive concurrent funding from the Endowment or its family of institutes during the fellowship period. The program does not fund professional training, fieldwork, or students pursuing a degree. A working knowledge of English is required. 2014-2015 Fellowship Sessions Fall 2014: October 1, 2014-February 28, 2015 Spring 2015: March 1-July 31, 2015 For more information, visit our website .

LIBERIA : Jailed At 6:20: Liberians Rally to Protest Frontpageafrica’s Editor’s Imprisonment at Civil Law Court in Monrovia

Hundreds of protesting placard wielding Liberians stormed the Temple of Justice on Wednesday as all eyes were set on the civil law court, to prevent the imprisonment of the managing editor /publisher of the Frontpageafrica newspaper. But Rodney D. Sieh after being held up for hours was locked up beyond the stipulated time for imprisonment under the laws.

[B]Monrovia [/B]- Several hundred people gathered outside the Temple of Justice Court Wednesday to protest the arrest of Rodney Sieh, the Publisher of FrontPage Africa who ordered by the Supreme Court to pay US$1.5 million in a libel case involving former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe. Protesters carrying signs with messages about press freedom, free speech and support for Sieh packed the courtroom and the parking lot of the court house.

"Justice should not be manipulated in the interest of state Bureaucracy, '' read one sign. "The verdict of the court is devilish. It is intended to muzzle press freedom read another. "Freedom of the press is a constitutional right. It should not be compromised for mere friendship, money and power. Leave Rodney Sieh alone,'' read another sign held up by a group of protestors standing in the middle of the parking lot.

Protesters chanted slogans accusing the government of grooming corruption and leading the way to prosecute journalist who write about the injustices in the country. Many of the protester argued that FrontPageAfrica cannot be made to pay such a heavy fine to a public official when in fact the paper does not make such profits.

Samuel F. Mcgill   said: "Front Page Africa will not give a dime and we are prepare to go to jail     today  Front Page Africa is saying an alleged  corruption allegation be leveled against Dr. Chris Toe, then what prompted you to come to court?"

"We want to be very clear here today that our presence here today is in solidarity with FrontPage Africa does not mean we don't want to see justice.  When you push people to the wall they will bounce back. Enough is enough this must stop; this whole thing was manipulated by madam Sirleaf and her looters and economic vampires for Mr. Sieh to go to jail."

[B]The closed door meeting
While the protestors chanted slogans outside, Sieh and his lawyers, Samuel Kofi Woods, Pearl Brown Bull, and Peter Quaqua, president of the Press Union of Liberia and Mr. Kenneth Best owner of the Daily observer newspaper met behind closed doors with Judge Boima Kontoe of the Civil Law Court. The meeting with the judge lasted close to an hour with a crowded courtroom waiting to hear the result of the case.

Sieh and his lawyers arrived at the courthouse shortly before 4:PM. The journalist came ready to spend the night in jail. He had his toothbrush; towel and pillow tucked under his arm, just like his late grand uncle Albert Porte did when he was summoned by government after he reported stories in his pamphlet about corruption and widespread abuses meted against the Liberian people during the 1970s.

After more than an hour meeting, the judge ordered that Sieh be incarcerated at the Central Prison after he said he did not have the US$1.5 million to pay. Sieh's lawyers told journalists following the meeting with the judge that Sieh had agreed to go to prison because he had no asset in value to the US$1.5 million he is being ordered to pay.

The crowd ran to a side door after Brown Bull emerged from the judge's chambers to tell the packed court room that Sieh was headed to jail. The crowd rushed to a side door where Sieh was expected to pass. They blocked the pathway, chanting slogans. Some protestors lay on the ground, stating that they would not leave if Rodney was not released.

[B]Roadway blocked[/B]

Protestors ignored police orders to clear the roadway. Protestors blocked the roadway for over an hour, forcing police to bring in more officers armed with plastic shields.

Said an angry Vandallah Patricks a civil rights activist: "Enough is enough, gone are the days where people were used as stooges by imported Beograd who did not understand the nature of our system but was brought into this country to destroy lives and property. It is good to go to jail with dignity than to accept the suffering of the masses with humanity.

Shortly before 6:PM., Police led by Deputy Director Abraham Kromah, brought Sieh out of the courtroom and forced him into a police vehicle after he had been made to calm the crowd following a brief talk with them. Sieh waved and held up his toothbrush as the crowd chanted "Free Rodney Sieh; Free Rodney Sieh".

A few minutes later, he was shoved in a police pickup. A caravan or cars and motorcycles followed the police pickup to Central Prison where hundreds had also gathered. The crowd was so large that police returned to police headquarters briefly and swapped Sieh in another car and returned to the Central Prison. Sieh in a phone conversation with family members from his prison cell said he was kicked and pushed on the way to jail.

[B]The 6:pm question[/B]

Rodney D. Sieh, Managing Editor and Publisher of FrontPageAfrica was remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison at exactly 6:20pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013 and legal experts argued that the action by the court was against the law.

"I returned Rodney Sieh to the judge in compliance with the law. The sheriff came with some police there and say they were about to take him. I came down here on South beach around five and I waited until it was six PM and I did take a picture and the time," said Cllr. Bull.

"And under our law you do not put people in prison after six. They brought him here and took him back and they said the police station told them they could not keep him there. So they brought him back here about six twenty five and put him jail. Under our jurisprudence this is a violation. It's the same thing that happened to Grace Kpan they brought her here ten minutes past six and wanted her to go in because she did not go in they that was obstruction of justice."

Liberians have vowed to take the government to task on this latest imprisonment of a journalist in Liberia especially at a time when the government is professing that it supports freedom of the Press.

"We want to let you know that injustice to one is in justice to all. The managing editor of FrontPageAfrica is not alone we have come to sleep with him. Rainfall or not we will sleep in prison," said a protester who identified himself as Henry.

[B]Unprecedented Court action[/B]

According to legal experts familiar with Liberian courtroom procedure, the incarceration of Mr. Sieh just days after the bill of costs was approved is unprecedented.

"In fact the Judge allowed the Sherif to act with wanton disregard to the order which held in part: You are hereby commanded to seize and expose for sale the lands, goods and chattels of the defendants Rodney Sieh of the FrontPageAfrica and if the sum realized be not sufficient, then their real property until you shall have raised the sum of US$1,624,000.00 and L$17,300.00," said a legal expert who preferred not to be named.

"If you cannot find said lands, goods and chattels of said defendants you are hereby commanded to arrest the living bodies of the above defendants and bring them before any judge of competent jurisdiction to be dealt with according to law, unless they will pay the said sum of money (ies) or show property to you to seize and sell for same."

The legal expert said in this case, there is no evidence that the goods, lands or chattels of Mr. Sieh or FrontpageAfrica were even seized.

"In fact, immediately after the sherif received the order they immediately went looking for the living body of Mr. Sieh, ignoring the first part of the order to seize property. Ironically, they looked under the very desks and chairs and computers they should have been seizing in order to arrest Mr. Sieh," said the expert.

"Usually, in judgement enforcement, the Sherif first look to seize property and sell it at public auction, a procedure that would have taken more than one month. This was not in this case. Further, a defendant is typically incarcerated in matters like this under a contempt order for failure to pay, not a writ of execution which initiates the process of collection."

"The whole proceedings against Rodney Sieh and FrontPageAfrica from a bad verdict to bad enforcement proceedings shows that the justice system in Liberia is subject to the whims and caprices of the government."

[B]Genesis of saga[/B]

FrontPage's saga with Toe began in 2010 when the paper reported that the then Agriculture Minister had misapplied funds intended to fight worms that had infested crops in Bong and Lofa counties. The newspaper's reports were based on documents from the General Auditing Commission and Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC). Earlier this week, Sieh said the message from the court's verdict is that Liberian journalists can no longer use government documents to report on corruption.

Sieh appealed to the Supreme Court after lower court found him guilty of libel. He maintained that the court found him guilty though he provided the government owned documents about the missing money and funds and presented evidence that jurors were bribed for a guilty verdict. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, August 19, 2013

Opportunity : Engagement Fellow Knight International Journalism Fellowships (Nigeria)

Engagement Fellow
Knight International Journalism Fellowships

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) seeks a Knight International Journalism Fellow to be based in Nigeria for 10 months to help amplify the impact of our partners' innovative health journalism.

We are looking for a media professional, with deep roots in newsrooms, who has managed complex digital innovation projects and teams, and who has a demonstrable track-record for creating ways for audiences to engage with the news.

The Fellow will work with other ICFJ Fellows both in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa,  as well as local and international technologists, to ensure that our journalist partners produce health stories that engage audiences. We define audience engagement as measurable instances where citizens:
  • Consume and interact with news
  • Contribute to and co-create news
  • Amplify the news by sharing it online and offline
  • Act on news, by responding to issues or events
  • Explore issues or data reported in news, by accessing additional information or resources
A major emphasis of our program is to create health news that empowers audiences.

Qualifications and Skills:

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate:
  • Experience working in newsrooms
  • Experience creating digital and/or mobile news media
  • Experience managing digital production teams, while working to tight deadlines
  • Experience integrating social media into news media
  • Success in achieving measurable audience engagement
  • Success at replicating or repurposing technologies to answer local needs
  • Strong leadership qualities
  • Strong project and time management skills
  • Experience in Nigeria or elsewhere in Africa is strongly preferred
  • Training or coaching experience is a plus
The fellowship is open to any nationality.  The Fellowship duration is 10 months, starting October 1st 2013.

The Knight International Journalism Fellowships are designed to instill a culture of news innovation and experimentation worldwide. The goal is to seed new ideas and services that deepen coverage, expand news delivery and engage citizens in the editorial process.

The program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Fellows build on past successes in the Knight program, which has a strong record of achieving impact. They work in countries where there is a good opportunity to create the news media of the future. With additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Knight Fellows are empowering journalists in sub-Saharan Africa to use the latest digital tools to tell compelling stories on health and development issues.

Applications should be sent to: Code4Africa@gmail.com 
International Institute for ICT Journalism

Friday, August 16, 2013

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Request for Proposals

Project Name: Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery
Assignment Name: Development Communications/Social Marketing Specialist
Registration number: 258-13/127

Section 1. General Information

1.1 The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an Inter-Governmental Organisation that was established in 1995 with the sole mandate of  supporting sustainable democracy worldwide. Currently, International IDEA has 29 Member
States from different parts of the world. International IDEA’s work focuses on developing and sharing knowledge resources, facilitating dialogue and contributing to policy reforms for more effective democratic institutions and processes. This work takes place in four Key Impact Areas (KIA) of Electoral Processes (EP); Constitution Building Processes (CBP); Political Participation and Representation (PPR) and Democracy and Development (DD), as well as three cross-cutting themes of Gender, Diversity, and Conflict and Security.

1.2 The Institute now invites proposals from qualified consultants to act as development communications/social marketing specialist to review the democratic accountability in service delivery tool from a pedagogical perspective (commenting on both the content and the process/methodology), to assist with the user-friendliness of the final version and to write an overview of the tool for use by a wider range of users, e.g. an assessment team wishing to share an overview of the tool with the authorities, politicians in the country of assessment, or potential donors of an assessment. A detailed description of the assignment is provided in the Terms of Reference attached to this Request for Proposals.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JOB OPPORTUNITY : Development Communications/Social Marketing Specialist

Project Name: Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery
Assignment Name: Development Communications/Social Marketing Specialist
Registration number: 258-13/127
Section 1. General Information
1.1 The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an Inter-Governmental Organisation that was established in 1995 with the sole mandate of  supporting sustainable democracy worldwide. Currently, International IDEA has 29 Member
States from different parts of the world. International IDEA's work focuses on developing and sharing knowledge resources, facilitating dialogue and contributing to policy reforms for more effective democratic institutions and processes. This work takes place in four Key Impact Areas (KIA) of Electoral Processes (EP); Constitution Building Processes (CBP); Political Participation and Representation (PPR) and Democracy and Development (DD), as well as three cross-cutting themes of Gender, Diversity, and Conflict and Security.
1.2 The Institute now invites proposals from qualified consultants to act as development communications/social marketing specialist to review the democratic accountability in service delivery tool from a pedagogical perspective (commenting on both the content and the process/methodology), to assist with the user-friendliness of the final version and to write an overview of the tool for use by a wider range of users, e.g. an assessment team wishing to share an overview of the tool with the authorities, politicians in the country of assessment, or potential donors of an assessment. A detailed description of the assignment is provided in the Terms of Reference attached to this Request for Proposals.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer School on Governance of Oil, Gas and Mining Revenues Opens in Accra

Penplusbytes’ partner in strengthening media oversight of the extractive sectors, Revenue Watch Institute, through its Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge (REIK) Hub is hosting the fourth edition of the annual Summer School on Governance of Oil, Gas and Mining Revenues at the Mensvic Grand Hotel in Accra from 11th to 25th August, 2013.
The summer school is open to senior level civil society activists, government officials, youth activists and traditional authorities who are engaged in the sector, Members of Parliament and clerks serving in Extractive Industries (EI) relevant parliamentary sub-committees and senior level journalists/editors that cover EI relevant topics.”

The 2-week residential course comprehensively covers the EI value chain and seeks to deepen knowledge and equip participants with skills for them to undertake independent analysis of fiscal and revenue management policies, EITI reports, Contracts and key legislation in their own countries.

According to Mr. Emmanuel Kuyole, Africa Regional Director of Revenue Watch, “The program has over the years had 167 participants from Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, South Sudan, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana. This year however, more participants from other resource-rich African countries will join the program. The workshop will be addressed by seasoned resource persons from across the continent who have both academic and activism backgrounds.”

Penplusbytes Oil and Gas Project Director, Mr. Fred Avornyo on his expectations from the workshop said “I see this as an eye-opener as it will give me the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the industry, particularly the accounting processes and the revenue streams.”

The workshop aims at helping members of government, the media, civil society organisations and trade unions broaden their knowledge of the extractive sector issues and their impact on socio-economic development.

The Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub is a center of knowledge development established by Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in collaboration with German International Development Cooperation (GIZ).

Thursday, August 08, 2013

OPINION: Impact Of Social Media On Nigerian Journalism

Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television while Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment on contents among themselves in virtual communities and networks.

The impact of social media in the communication system cannot be overemphasized as traditional media has undoubtedly taken an onward progressive turn in achieving its core assignments of educating, informing and entertaining its audience; the Nigerian populace.

The consistent and goal-driven use of social media has filled the interactive and investigative vacuum found in the traditional media in Nigeria and the entire world. Hitherto this new age of journalism, reporters were only able to practice the time-sensitive profession within a certain constrained environment which permitted the Nigerian journalist to find facts from physically available sources.

Today, the Nigerian journalist can boast of new skills in news gathering and better accuracy in reporting the opinion of the people. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + have been used to monitor trends and gather intelligence in regards to the opinion of the masses.

Take for instance events which have garnered much attention as a result of activities on social media. Thousands of Nigerians joined Twitter during and after the subsidy protest (OccupyNigeria) of 2012,  the death of four UNIPORT students (ALUU4) caused a nationwide outcry against 'jungle justice,' the video of a policeman caught extorting a motorist went viral online and has now found its way into TV and radio.

These events were either instigated or projected online as a result of the use of social media platforms by those who witnessed and shared the details.

The ability of the social media to breed interactivity has caused the audience to exit its passive shell and enter into a new sphere of activity. This has helped in a number of other sectors in the economy; most especially politics and education. Worthy of note is the fact that social media has helped traditional media to gain its lost audience (youths).

With the rise in social media usage, Nigerian youths, who scarcely subscribed to the print media, have now cultivated a healthy habit of keeping abreast of events in the country.

Social media has impacted Nigerian journalism in the area of reporting as new features i-reports which allows individuals report events in real time in any case where an official correspondent is not on ground.

The integration of social media in news gathering and delivery has also enabled the Nigerian journalist to work in a capacity that totally erases the restrictions of distance. Today, interviews are conducted via email correspondence, Twitter conversations, Skype video chats etc.

Breaking News! This feature has been redefined since the advent of social media in Nigerian journalism. Journalists can now break news as they happen with supporting files such as pictures taken and posted alongside headlines.

Live broadcasts have been made possible online via web streaming. In most cases, the audience is able to participate and give feedback via the comments section which allows the reporter access to instant feedback.

The World Wide Web evolves daily; so does the social media. This means traditional media will yet experience even more changes and growth in times to come.

Written by Mayowa Ogundele, an online journalist with Channels Television, creative writer and aspiring broadcaster. Follow her via Twitter @Ohluwamayowa and Google+, Mayowa Ogundele.


International Institute for ICT Journalism

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

End of Print Journalism?

To learn that Washington Post has been sold less than a week after New York Times Company sold The Boston Globe is telling about the frenetic speed with which newspapers are going extinct.
New York Times aptly described as shocking to the media industry, the sale of The Washington Post, the newspaper whose reporting helped topple a president to the founder of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P. Bezos for $250 million.

What is really frightening is the prospect of a democratic society without a newspaper. The trend towards the decline of newspapers suggests that the Internet will ultimately wipe traditional print journalism as we know it.

In 2009, the 100-year old Pulitzer Prize winning Christian Science Monitor abandoned its daily print format and chose instead to go digital. Other publications are thinking of changing their business model to reflect the growing influence of the Internet in journalism.

The sale of the flagship publication such as The Washington Post to a savvy Internet entrepreneur with an estimated personal fortune of $28 billion sets the stage for turning off printing presses in parts of the world where Internet has become an essential part of life.

Almost everyone acknowledges the high cost of running newspapers in today's challenging economic environment. Newsprint, delivery trucks, drivers, and circulation costs and many other expenses conspire to make contemporary newspaper management a herculean task. These challenges persist as circulation figures plummet. For example, the esteemed Washington Post struggled over the years with dwindling circulation figures and loss of revenue. In the past 7 years, the newspaper circulation declined by almost 50 per cent while in the past 6 months, it posted $49 million in lost revenue.

The story is the same in most newspapers and their worth is depreciating by the day. Consider the sale last week of The Boston Globe to John W. Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million far less than $1.1 billion New York Times Company paid for the newspaper in 1993. Under normal business circumstances, the value of such a product ought to have appreciated over 20 years. But, it never happened and that means that traditional newspaper business is on a death spiral and as such has no value.
What is happening to newspapers is symptomatic of a larger disease afflicting journalism especially with regards to declining media credibility. Realistically, why should anyone read newspapers today? Traditionally, people read newspapers to get information about investigations and revelations about government and society which in most cases cannot be obtained from radio or television. Investigative journalism defined credible newspapers such The Washington Post. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's investigative reporting instigated the process that saw Richard Nixon resign as President of the United States while New York Times' role in publishing the Pentagon Papers is still fresh in the minds of media historians and others.

There are lots of malfeasance happening in government, labor unions, Wall Street, Churches and Mosques etc that requires the attention of the media and that can help to bolster media credibility. But it appears that there is no appetite for investigation anymore. Instead, there is so much emphasis on celebrity journalism and reliance on press releases and news conferences; gossip journalism and infotainment disguised as news. Even more seriously is the polarized politics of contemporary society that pits the media into two major ideological divides—Conservative and progressive.

Journalism has become so much opinionated nowadays that even television stations no longer rely on their reporters for analysis. They depend on political hacks that go in the name of contributors or political analysts. The media-political complex is booming at the expense of serious journalism. Consequently, the audience has shrunk to a very tiny size that agrees to the political ideology of the newspaper of choice, an echo chamber of some sort.

While we may be concerned about the growing demise of newspapers, it is important to remember that in the history of mass communication, one form of communication often replaced another as society progressed technologically. The progression from the invention of printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th Century to the evolution of radio and television in the 20th century and now the Internet shows the constant improvement in the channels of communication at every point in history. What is significant is that in all these periods, society witnessed gradual erosion of control by media owners or proprietors. For example, in the 15th century, owners of printing presses determined access to the printing press as well as what gets printed. Thereafter was radio but the airwaves could not be controlled as much as the printing era. Television shared similar characteristics. And today, the Internet has moved journalism away from the traditional fourth estate of the realm to what Eric Schmidt, the Chairman of Google calls "interconnected estate" where access and admission is not restricted whether you are a professional journalist or not; rich or poor; and black or white.

The future of The Washington Post under the management of Amazon's founder Jeffrey Bezos is promising considering his success in using the Internet to change the face of retail business. It may not surprise many people if the Amazon founder changed the newspaper's business model to fit into a more cost-effective digital publication. How he will do it remains unclear but his pedigree as trail blazer familiar with ground breaking ventures should inspire confidence in Graham family (former owners of The Washington Post) and the entire staff and readers of The Washington Post.

In the final analysis, Bezo's revolutionary instincts may change print journalism beyond what veteran media mogul Rupert Murdoch can accomplish. Time will tell!

Dr. Uchenna Ekwo wrote from New York; uchenna@cmpimedia.org


International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Media Project’s 2013 Coaching and Leadership Fellowship Awards Training

Sixteen journalists from around the world are making their way to St. Petersburg, Florida this month to begin their official training as recipients of The Media Project's 2013 Coaching and Leadership Fellowship Awards.

Media Project CEO Dr. Arne Fjeldstad said the goal of the program "is to build a global network of journalists dedicated to ethical decision-making and leadership values who are willing to mentor the next generation of journalists." Now in its second year, the Fellowship begins with a customized workshop at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida 

**Meet the 2013 Fellows. Scroll to the bottom of the page for winners' bios.**

"We start with the idea that there's a great body of wisdom already in the room.  So, we make certain that the learning is interactive and inclusive," said Poynter's Leadership and Management expert Jill Geisler.

The core leadership and coaching sessions of the August 4-9, 2013, workshop will be led by Geisler and are designed to help journalists from a variety of cultural backgrounds develop transformational leadership skills.

"The goal is not to impose a US-centric view of leadership and coaching, but rather to identify universal principles and unique applications."

Geisler, who crafted the Poynter training sessions based on conversations with The Media Project educational team, observes, "the challenges that many of the participants in this workshop face are humbling to people who practice daily journalism in the United States.  During this intense week, we respect the reality of their professional experiences and aspirations.  Because these journalists are already recognized for their work on behalf of others, our goal is to help them add practical, customized tools to their tool kit."

Helping this year's Fellows improve their "tool kit" will be Stephen Buckley, dean of faculty at The Poynter Institute and Kelly McBride, a former religion reporter who now serves as Poynter's senior faculty on Ethics, Reporting, and Writing.

Additional workshop sessions on the intersection of journalism and faith will be led by "On Religion" columnist Terry Mattingly who edits the GetReligion blog and serves on The Media Project Board of Directors as well as Dr. Fjeldstad.

Each of the sixteen journalists chosen for the 2013 Fellowship Awards received a full scholarship to cover training and travel costs.

"We have a terrific group of journalists from 14 different countries so I'm confident we're going to have a great week learning more about coaching and leadership development across cultures," said Fjeldstad.

The Media Project Coaching and Leadership Fellowship requires participants to make a yearlong commitment to explore, develop, and replicate various aspects of coaching and leadership skills.  In addition, the fellows must make a commitment to mentor two younger journalists in mainstream media from their country.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Deadline Extended: Telkom-Highway Africa New Media Awards 2013

The 17th Highway Africa Conference, taking place at Rhodes University, South Africa, is set to host the 13thth edition of the Highway Africa New Media Awards. Sponsored by Telkom, these are unique and prestigious awards on the continent that reward innovative use of Information Communication technologies (ICTs) in journalism that serves Africa and its citizens. The awards were pioneered to highlight the role that ICTs play to enhance journalism and the media, in the process uplifting communities.

Entries can be made in three categories:

Innovative newsroom – newsrooms across Africa can submit nominations based on their innovative use of digital media including online, social and mobile media.

Best African ICT Blog – Followers or bloggers may nominate an African-based or diasporic African blog based on its coverage, debate and use of ICTs within the African context.

Innovative use of technology for community engagement – members of communities, organisations, or supporters may nominate an organisation (either corporate or non-profit) based on their innovative use of technology within a community in Africa. The organisation does not have to be African based, but the community in which they operate must be.

Each year the Awards are judged by an esteemed panel of judges. This year’s judges are:

1.       Ms Michelle Atagana – Convenor of the Jury, Managing Editor of Memeburn and is based in Cape Town.

2.       Ms Ory Okolloh – is currently Director of Investments at Omidyar Network Africa. Originally from Kenya, she co-founded Ushahidi in 2007 and was previously Policy Manager for Africa at Google.

3.       Ms Brenda Zulu – is an experienced ICT journalist from Zambia. She is a prolific blogger and commentator on ICT4D, agriculture and gender issues on the African continent.

4.       Mr Ndesanjo Macha – is Sub-Saharan Africa editor at Global Voices. He is a blogger, journalist, lawyer, digital activist and new media consultant, interested in the relationship between social media and development in the developing world, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa.

Broad Criteria for Entries

The judges will consider the use of new media technologies to:

    Advance newsroom operations, increase reach and diversifying content;
    Encourage social empowerment amongst marginalised communities through relevant topical community and/or African issues and innovative use of online media interactions platforms;
    Highlight innovative and creative applications of technology for the benefit of the continent’s overall media development.

 Past winners

The awards have become one of the major highlights of recognition, reward and celebration for creativity in using new technologies in media in Africa. The wide range of organisations and individuals that have won include journalists and students, NGOs and profit making organisations.

These individuals and organisations have made information and communication interventions that are critical to genuine free flow of information and participatory communication. When the history of new media technologies is written the awards will have a central place as a process and event that played the role of catalyst and promoter of innovation. Previous winners have included:

Citi 97.3FM (Ghana)

Global Voices

3 Bute (Nigeria)

African Women & Child Feature Service (Kenya)

Simon Dingle (South Africa)


Closing date is NOW 10 August 2013, 16:30, Pretoria Time. Winners will be announced at the Telkom- Highway African New Media Awards ceremony at the Highway Africa Conference. Finalists will be contacted.

For more information please contact Vimbai Chikukwa (Ms) at awards@highwayafrica.com.