Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
This briefing paper examines the boom in business journalism in countries where the news media is otherwise restricted or controlled by governments and makes the case that reporting on markets and businesses can provide coverage of issues that otherwise might not see the light of day in those environments.
The paper also represents a new approach to some of CIMA's research on media development. Since its founding in 2006, CIMA has published 80 research reports, most of them presented in academic style and running at some length. While we at CIMA will continue to produce such reports when appropriate, we also want to offer more concise, timely briefing papers that will illuminate issues of importance to the media development community in a more digestible format. We hope you like our new look.
International Institute for ICT Journalism
Friday, August 22, 2014
As the countdown begins towards the 18th annual Highway Africa conference which takes place from 7-8 September at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, the organisers have announced that Dan Gillmor will be keynote speaker.
The theme of the conference is Social Media – from the margins to the mainstream and Gillmor, who wrote the seminal book on citizen journalism, "We the Media" (2004), will revisit his initial optimism on the potential of the internet.
Gillmor teaches digital media literacy at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Over 400 delegates from 36 African countries are expected to attend including others from the United States of America, Bolivia, the Netherlands and Germany.
The conference will have a mix of panel discussions, training workshops, book launches and networking dinners. There are four distinct tracks in the programme that seek to cater for the different core constituencies that are attending, ranging from mainstream journalists, academics, community media activists, to journalism students. The conference will be preceded by council meetings of the African Editors Forum (TAEF) and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF).
About the Highway Africa Conference
Highway Africa is an annual conference run by Rhodes University's School of Journalism and Media Studies in partnership with corporate South Africa, donor partners and journalistic associations. Founded in 1997, the conference focuses on the issues arising from the interface of journalism, media and technology (internet and mobile-related).
For more information contact:
Katlego Gabashane (Ms)
International Institute for ICT Journalism
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Monrovia, August 14, 2014: The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is disappointed and disgusted by Thursday's forced and illegal closure of the National Chronicle Newspaper and the arrest of several staff of the paper including News Editor Emmanuel Mensah and IT Officer Emmanuel Logan, and the manhandling of Philibert S. Browne, Jr.
The Press Union sees these actions as a further expression of intolerance and an unwarranted attack on the free press, and calls upon President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to immediately denounce this action, release the staff and reopen the National Chronicle.
PUL President Abdullai Kamara say this action, which is yet to be explained from the highest level of the Liberia National Police, "strengthens the distrust between the government and the media, undermines the rule of laws and lays to waste the fruitful collaboration that has existed in the fight against the ebola virus."
Meanwhile, all members of the Press Union are invited to a mass emergency meeting at 12 noon tomorrow Friday, August 14, 2014 at the headquarters on Clay Street to chart further options.
D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh
International Institute for ICT Journalism
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
For the Obama Administration and the African Union (AU), a coalition of 54 states on the continent, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. last week was an opportunity to help expand the narrative beyond the story of American aid, to reflect the current opportunities of investment and trade.
Journalists from around the world assembled in the nation's capital to hear the opportunity stories. Among the American-based news media, it was those either managed by nonprofits or owned by African Americans or African immigrants that proved the best at providing context as well as coverage.
Consider this excerpt from a report on Aug. 4, the first day of the week-long summit, in Mshale, a Minneapolis-based news outlet founded by a Kenyan immigrant.
"White House officials say the American interests in Africa are immense. The continent is home to some of the world's fastest growing economies and a rapidly expanding middle class. The U.S. is also competing for those consumers with China, which surpassed the United States in 2009 as Africa's largest trading partner."
However, the Mshale report also noted that it would be difficult for the mainstream American media to establish a new narrative on Africa, as long as global headlines are dominated by news from other regions.
"Even as Obama immerses himself in talks on regional security, democracy building and business investment in Africa, the world's attention – and much of his own – will be on an extraordinary array of urgent overseas crises. Among them: Gaza clashes, Russia's provocation in Ukraine and mounting extremism in Iraq, to name just a few."
That point was observed by Uchenna Ekwo, a Nigerian journalist working in the U.S. for a non-profit organization. In a column, he concluded that a more expansive Africa narrative "is not important to Western media" after witnessing President Obama and reporters at a press conference that was designed to highlight the achievements of the summit. During the question and answer session, Obama called on reporters from the Associated Press, ABC News,Bloomberg, NBC News and the Nairobi-based The Standard.
"In the end," Ekwo noted, "only one question by Nairobi's Standard newspaper specifically referenced Africa and the Summit that necessitated the press conference in the first place... Nothing exemplifies the ignominy of Africa in international policy agenda than for the president of the United States to hold a press conference to discuss the outcome of a three day summit that literally uprooted Africa to Washington D.C., only for reporters to divert the attention of the president to other issues."
Meanwhile, African-American media focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. The Washington Informer, for example, produced an article that quoted U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a stalwart supporter of trade policies that promote African development. Newsone produced a video roundtable dubbed, "What you missed from the U.S.-Africa Summit." Black Enterprise magazine had two reporters at the summit and produced several reports.
Some African-American owned media posted coverage produced by other outlets. For example, The Africa Channel curated a wide range of summit reports on its home page. Many African-American newspapers – the Afro American chain and the San Diego Voice among them – posted summit reports produced by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which serves the black press.
Media owned or founded by African immigrants also devoted extensive coverage to the summit. For example, a report on an Obama pledge of $14 billion in commitments from U.S. companies for Africa is one of a half-dozen stories on the summit posted on the website of Arise News, a global broadcast team with offices in London, New York and Washington D.C.
As for analysis, the New York-based Sahara Reporters published a commentary by Sonala Olumhense on the alphabet soup of economic development initiatives related to Africa –NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union) and the current MDGs (Milennium Development Goals) among them.
Olumhense's point: "...it is not a shortage of conferences or summits or resolutions that Africa suffers from. The principal challenge is that the philosophy of democracy, and the accountability that underpins it, has yet to be accepted by most of Africa's so-called leaders. They love to wield power, but resent the responsibility that comes with it."
African immigrant media also covered some of the many summit "side events." For example, the New Jersey-based African Sun Times produced a report on a forum on civil society organizations in Africa, an event attended by Presidents Mahama of Ghana and Kikwete of Tanzania, Secretary of State John Kerry and Dr. Nkosazana Diamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, which conducts the work of the AU.
To be sure, the African Union Commission (AUC) recognized the potential of the African immigrant press and the African-American media to provide a broader and more nuanced narrative on Africa before the summit began. The AUC had scheduled an Aug. 4 town hall meeting with African immigrant and African-American media "to not only raise awareness of AUC activities, but also engage the Diaspora journalists and the international media interested in covering... the development agenda of the continent." Before the planned gathering, the AUC cancelled that forum but currently has plans to organize such a session in New York, during the United Nations General Assembly in September.
However, without a news exchange involving African media on the continent and diaspora media in the U.S., it will be difficult to expand the dissemination of news related to economic development on the continent.
Many African-American news organizations have expressed interest in expanding their African coverage. For example, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which represents more than 200 African-American newspapers, has expressed an interest in doing so despite the fact that NNPA members do not have the resources to assign reporters to cover African affairs.
"We have to come up with creative ways of covering Africa," said NNPA Chairman Cloves C. Campbell, Jr. in a statement, "because the Motherland is too important for us to ignore."
African immigrant media also face technology challenges -- many outlets are limited to newspapers, and lack a web platform.
Without correspondents or Internet presence, it is difficult for diaspora African media in the United States to discover and relay information on encouraging developments, such as the elections monitoring and the oil and gas industry watchdog activities of the International Institute of ICT Journalism, or the agribusiness promise of the Songhai Centres for development in West African states.
To be sure, news media based in Africa is also seeking to improve its coverage of business and government corruption. Media mogul Michael Bloomberg plans to aid this effort with his recently announced Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, a three-year, $10 million pan-African program to build media capacity to improve business coverage and help advance government accountability. Bloomberg also demonstrated his interest in Africa by co-sponsoring the day-long U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a major summit event.
Nigerian banker and philanthropist Tony Elumelu was among those participating at the business forum. The Wall Street Journal published his summit-related op-ed in advance of the week-long conference. During a brief press conference at the summit, he was asked about his entrepreneurship development programs. However, his most animated comment was in response to a question about the media coverage of African development.
"Much of the coverage of Africa is so negative and imbalanced," he said. "This discourages many from investing. We have to do a better job of telling and sharing our story."
International Institute for ICT Journalism
Friday, August 08, 2014
The International Institute of ICT Journalism, Penplusbytes, in partnership with Financial Accountability and Transparency Africa (FAT-Africa) is undertaking a Budget Tracking Project to produce a simplified, easily comprehensible and reader-friendly citizens’ budget. This is in recognition of the need to track government expenditure as well as efforts to measure how well policies are implemented and to what extent governments are fulfilling their commitments to citizens.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Once upon a time, there was a blog .
It was written in Amharic, the dominant language in Ethiopia, by a team of young journalists and thinkers who wanted to have an open, public conversation about the future of their nation.
It's not especially easy to talk about these issues in Ethiopia. Africa's second largest country has been ruled by a neo-marxist government (EPRDF – Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democracy Front) which overthrew a brutal military dictatorship in 1991, instilling one-party autocratic rule in its place.
Part of EPRDF's strategy of control is the silencing of dissent. When students protested rigged elections in 2005, the government blocked all SMS traffic for two years , claiming that opposition activists were using SMS to plan their campaigns. (They were. The real issue is that Ethiopia saw opposition political activity as a threat to regime stability.) Ethiopia briefly had a thriving and energetic blogosphere , but government censorship and harassment of bloggers quickly silenced many of those voices. The country's independent press has been crippled by Ethiopia's strategy of imprisoning the strongest journalistic voices , including PEN prizewinner Eskinder Nega , in the country's notorious Kaliti Prison.
Tens of thousands are held in Kaliti prison, in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Journalists and other political prisoners are held in Zone 8 of the prison, and they jokingly refer to the rest of the nation, itself in a prison of sorts, as "Zone 9″. Thus the name of the blog: the Zone 9 bloggers are writing from the outer ring of the prison, the nation itself.
Zone 9 member Endalk explains: 
In the suburbs of Addis Ababa, there is a large prison called Kality where many political prisoners are currently being held, among them journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. The journalists have told us a lot about the prison and its appalling conditions. Kality is divided into eight different zones, the last of which — Zone Eight — is dedicated to journalists, human right activists and dissidents.
When we came together, we decided to create a blog for the proverbial prison in which all Ethiopians live: this is Zone Nine.
Ethiopia sees itself in danger of splitting into rival, warring parts. This fear is not unfounded – Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in 1991 after a thirty-year war, taking Ethiopia's seacoast with it. (Sadly, Eritrea is also a one-party state notorious for jailing journalists.) Ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden region and ethnic Oromo have been seeking independent states – their armed movements, the ODLF and the OLF are seen as terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian government does face a real threat from armed militants. But it has a disturbing tendency to label anyone who expresses dissent as a terrorist. Consider Eskinder Nega. Nega's crime was to report on the Arab Spring protests  and to point out that Ethiopia could face similar protests if the government did not reform and open up. He was charged with "planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt" of terrorist acts and is now serving an 18 year prison sentence.
The Zone 9 bloggers were understandably scared by Nega's arrest and prosecution, and the blog went silent for over a year. This spring, they decided they could not remain silent any longer. On April 25th, the government responded by arresting 6 members of the blogging team , and three journalists the government saw as "affiliated" with the bloggers.
The charges against the bloggers  give a sense of what the Ethiopian government is fighting: dissent, not terror. Much of the charge sheet focuses on accusations that bloggers traveled out of the country to receive training in encrypting their communications, specifically through using Security in a Box , a package of Open Source software compiled by Tactical Tech , an organization that helps free speech and journalistic organizations protect themselves from surveillance. The Ethiopian government accuses the Zone 9 bloggers of using these tools in an attempt to "overthrow, modify or suspend the Federal or State Constitution; or by violence, threats, or conspiracy." In fact, the bloggers were using such tools to coordinate their reporting work, hoping to avoid detection and arrest by a paranoid government.
These charges give a sense for how hard it is to work on free speech issues in repressive countries. Global Voices worked with Zone 9 in 2012 to create the Amharic edition of Global Voices . (That edition hasn't been updated recently due to the imprisonment of our partners.) Four of the bloggers held in Kaliti are Global Voices volunteers. Other members of the team who work with Global Voices are in exile and would be arrested if they returned home. Knowing how dangerous it is to report from Ethiopia, we helped our volunteers find resources like Security in a Box. Our attempts to help create a safer environment for free speech in Ethiopia are now part of the case against our friends.
Obama and Zenawi share a laugh. Official White House photo by Pete Souza, used with permission.
Compounding the sadness and frustration we at Global Voices are feeling is the fact that Ethiopia is a massive recipient of foreign aid, hosts the headquarters of the African Union and is a key military ally to the US, seen as a stable, Christian bulwark against Somalia. Meles Zenawi enjoyed a warm relationship with the Obama administration (the President's statement on Zenawi's death included a cursory mention of human rights after praising Zenawi's focus on food security), and there's been little evidence that the State Department has any plans of getting tough with Ethiopia on issues of free speech or human rights.
At Global Voices, we are trying to call attention to the plight of the Zone 9 bloggers, hoping for action from the US State Department to seek their immediate release, and an easing of Ethiopia's war on independent media. We are asking friends to join in using the #FreeZone9Bloggers hashtag, and to direct tweets to @StateDept.
This is a hard time to call attention to this situation, we know. Ellery Biddle, writing for Global Voices , notes that her Twitter client autofills the hashtag #Free____ with half a dozen choices, many of them our community members. It's an appropriate time to tweet the State Department to demand Israel protect the safety of civilians in Gaza, or to demand that news media cover the ongoing catastrophe in Syria. In asking for help, I don't want to lessen anyone's outrage about other injustice, but to ask for help bringing visibility to the plight of our friends who are otherwise likely to be forgotten in international diplomatic circles.
Free Zone9 Bloggers campaign image by Hugh D'Andrade, remixed by Hisham Almiraat.
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URLs in this post:
 the government blocked all SMS traffic for two years: http://www.balancingact-africa.com/news/en/issue-no-374/telecoms/sms-ban-lifted-in-et/en
 Ethiopia briefly had a thriving and energetic blogosphere: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2006/05/22/ethiopia-pioneers-cybercensorship-in-sub-saharan-africa/
 Ethiopia's strategy of imprisoning the strongest journalistic voices: http://cpj.org/imprisoned/2013.php
 PEN prizewinner Eskinder Nega: http://www.pen.org/defending-writers/eskinder-nega
 Nega's crime was to report on the Arab Spring protests: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/opinion/letter-from-ethiopias-gulag.html
 The charges against the bloggers: http://trialtrackerblog.org/2014/07/19/contextual-translation-of-the-charges-of-the-zone9-bloggers/
 Security in a Box: https://securityinabox.org/
 Tactical Tech: https://www.tacticaltech.org/
 the Amharic edition of Global Voices: http://am.globalvoicesonline.org/
 Ellery Biddle, writing for Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/07/31/freezone9bloggers-tweetathon-twitter-ethiopia-human-rights/
International Institute for ICT Journalism