15 September, 2009

Declining Youth Newspaper Readership a concern

How often do youngsters pick up a newspaper in a day and read a story or two? If that's pushing it, then maybe a fair question would be how many times youth read newspapers in a week. The simple answer to that is that they either simply do not read newspapers , or if they do, its as little as possible.

The shocking and sad truth is that youth newspaper readership has been declining over the last couple of years. Young people just aren't reading newspapers at all. Note, that this trend is particularly concerned with traditional media. Other media, especially new media have enjoyed growing readership, much to the detriment of traditional media. Global Trends in Media Consumption amongst Millennials has described and profiled millennials as individuals born between the years, 1981 to 2001. So these are youth ranging from 8- 28 years of age. As from 2007, these youngsters’ media consumption patterns have consisted of the fat that they spend most of their time perusing the internet at 37.16 hours a week, with only 2.9 hours dedicated to reading stories on print. Of these 37.16 hours surfing the net, only 8.61 hours are spent directly reading hard news and entertainment beats interchangeably.

This is a worrying trend.

So, the question then would be why youngsters are not reading news on print? Perhaps, as a youngster myself, I could bring the debate how the internet and cell phones make it convenient to read anything, seeing that they are portable- and I don't have to carry pages and pages of printed text with me. This could be a worthy debate, but in all truth and honesty, I do not read the news on my phone. I hate reading anything that is not a sms over the phone. I simply read news on the internet- but through a local area network computer on campus, a home PC or on my laptop. Just not on a cell phone. So this goes to show that there is a fundamentally deeper lacking in newspapers that has little to do with their inconvenient nature, or the current revolution of convergence or media digitization.

To cut the long story short, newspapers consider the youth as passive consumers of the news, and this is their first huge mistake. Youth wants to be involved in the production of news as well. They want to have a voice. That is the reason they are gravitating to the online news platforms, where they can interactively engage in citizen journalism and where their voice can be heard.

In the article, Youth are the News, Katina Paron, highlights that "Life-long readership of newspapers sustains the success of a news publication". Yet, to ensure this life long readership success, she emphasises that newspapers need to get youth involved as readers and active participants in the production of news- to ensure that they grow with this reading culture. The good news is there are ways for newspapers to involve young people in news media. Several propositions to do this surfaced at the World Young Readers Conference. It was discovered that youth want to have its own section in a newspaper- a section produced by the youth for the youth. And the youth ambassadors present at this conference proposed a 'PERFECT TEEN SECTION'- inclusive of vox pops, a separate identity from the parent newspaper with news and sports editorial, shout outs and a whole lot more fun but educational sections.

Here in Grahamstown, Grocott's Mail is doing a wonderful job to get youth more enthusiastic in reading newspapers. Grocott's Mail has developed a youth newspaper project called Upstart. All the content on upstart is produced by the youth. The paper even has an advice column and ‘letters to us’- where learners write to the paper about how it has helped them. There is also news, exams, careers, poetry, arts, games and shout outs sections.

Whilst addressing the Sol Plaatje Media Management postgraduate class, General Manager at Grocott's Mail, Louise Vale, acknowledged that "our country is in a state of urgency as far as youth readership is concerned." Louise was referring to the genesis of the Upstart youth supplement which has gotten the whole of young Grahamstown involved in and enthusiastic about reading newspapers and news production. Upstart is a project of Grocott's Mail that sees learners from underprivileged schools and former Model C schools work together in contributing content for the supplement. The youth supplement is catering for the emotional Diaspora of Grahamstown, combating the low literacy levels and poor matric results through improving the culture of newspaper readership. The project is managed by Shireen Badat and publishing intern, Nompumezo Makinana. The editorial team however, consists of student representatives from the different schools which contribute to Upstart.

So, it all starts here. Newspapers must give youngsters a platform to have a voice in the paper and must treat youngsters as equals in the production process, where issues that concern the youth are issues regarded equally important in the mainstream editorial hub. And most importantly- the issue of having a 55 year old ‘youth editor’ does not sink well with me. Have the youth manage its own issues because they will best represent it in a manner and language understandable to fellow youth- preventing being ‘talked down to’ as youth have explained.

BY: Nqobile08

11 September, 2009

New project for investigative reporting in Africa

The world of journalism is very broad and as a result information is often communicated through news agencies and correspondents.

The Ujima Project: Investigating reporting for Africa has developed new and efficient ways that allow for journalists to gather information. This is a new project that was created by the Great Lakes Media Institute and is headed by a team of journalists from Africa and the US; namely- Sally Stapleton, who is a deputy managing director for The Day newspaper, Ron Nixon a reporter for the New York Times , an architect and lead developer of the Ujima Project, and Stephen C. Miller, an editor, reporter and technology consultant.

The project is an incubator to develop a digital house to disseminate nonpartisan data relevant to Africa. The project is in the form of a website for the use by journalists and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). It “allows access to factual data and to information that may not be readily available in many African countries”.
The non-profit project aims to help journalists, but the audience can also use the site to get information they need. Information is updated at least once a month, for the convenience of the people. This project is funded by the Open Society Institute, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Ford Foundation and members of the Great Lakes Media Institute.

There are to be new ways in which people can access this website and not only on the internet but as well on their mobile phones, which is still in the developing process. This particular project is still new and members will appreciate feedback and criticisms and journalists are urged to follow the blog as a form of interactivity.

By: Samu Makhubu

Development journalism re-evaluated

“I do not believe that development journalism is boring, Bad journalism is boring,” said Professor Alfred E Opubor. He was part of a panel discussion during the Highway Africa conference which addressed the significance of training more journalists on how to report for development

The problem facing media society is that not many journalists put their energy in reporting enough on development. “The problem is that there is a “flavour of the month” approach to news”, says Professor Opubor. African Editors Forum deputy chair, Cheriff Sy, also added that the developmental issue can be blamed on bad governance which neglects journalist’s knowledge and leaves them vulnerable to NGOs which only approach journalists out of lobbying interest towards certain politics and environmental issues.

The solution to this issue is complex but also possible once approached “We need to take journalists out to the streets and out of the classroom. We need to make sure that they are well informed about society”, says Professor Opubor.
by Anele Ngwenya

08 September, 2009


The Highway Africa 2009 conference, on the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media ends today with more Workshops, debates, seminars and roundtable discussions. One of such was the Reporting Democracy : Media and Elections in Africa , a roundtable discussion concerned with the way african journalists report elections and their efforts towards finally instilling democracy in their various countries. One of the speakers on the panel was Kwami Ahiabenu, Director of Penplusbytes and also team leader for the African Elections Project aimed at covering elections in africa using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
After his presentation we had a very enriching chat with him on his ideas, opinions, achievements and future hope as concerns Journalists reporting Democracy and elections in Africa. This is an excerpt of the interview.
How did the idea come to you to create the African Elections Project?
I realised that a lot of journalists lacked the capacity in election coverage. It is a training institute where we have been training journalists on a couple of topics based on capacityy building in ICT election coverage. So we came up with this idea of the African Elections Project aimed at building the capacity of journalists to use new ICT tools to do election reporting.
So how important is indepth knowledge for journalists to ensure a viable report?
It is very crucial. It is just like a pilot knowing the geography of his destination. We do not expect journalists to become experts in elections but they need to know the “before”, “during” and “after” election process. They need to know the constitutrion, the law of the land, what you can or cannot do.
During the seminar you insisted on the media carrying out investigative journalism to ensure correct elections reporting, what do you mean by that?
Basically, ehhrr, what we observe is that most of the journalists just go on and report on violence, what political leaders say and never implement , and we discover that a lot of things happen during elections that journalists could investigate on. In order to get a credible , free and fair elections we need to improve on our investigative journalism.

A little bit away from the journalist in particular and more into your activities under the African Elections Project. Lets talk a little bit about your launching the first ever elections project for Malawi in the month of may 2009. What was it designed to do?
Malawi is a very interesting country. Due to the fact that it is a small country people do not have a lot of interest in it, but we decided to pay attention to its electoral process. The international media was only going to do a comarative coverage of it, fly a reporter in and than out but we decided to have an indepth analysis of the situation there; ensuring that we have news on the process before, during and after . More importantly in Malawi we did a project called the “voices project” where we sent all our reporters all over Malawi to actually gather information on ordinary citizens which the mainstream media will not report.
What are the other countries your project will be geared towards in the future?
We are presently in ghana, mauritania and malawi. We will launch in cote d’ivoire, Niger, Egypt and in Southern Africa we are looking at Namibia, Botswana and mozambique. We hope to reach to all th 52 countries but its one country at a time. (laughs)
What is your take on the recent reporting of the elections in South Africa by the journalists?
One can’t say it (reporting)was perfect, but things are changing but again maybe the rythym of change is not fast enough.
Kwami Ahiabenu is also the director of Penplusbytes which is a group of journalists interested in linking ICT’s and journalism looking at the new media.
By Patience Fominyen and Salouka Nourou-dhine

Le bilinguisme... le chemin sur

Eduardo Avila, the founder and director of the Bolivian People's Voices project, emphasised the need for bilingualism in the bloggosphere.
The journalist who said, "I blogg in English and twitter in Spanish", insisted that his choices as a reporter are a function of his target audiences. While stating that multi-lingual people should be a bridge in the efforts to revive and sustain local languages, Avila highlighted the need for blogs to be created in these local languages in anticipation of eventual internet literacy even in countries like Cameroon where over 200 languages exist where less than 5% of the population are internet savvy.

Avila started the project to promote the use of the indigenious languages in Bolivia. Bolivians are taught how to blog in their own languages, upload photos and podcasts, and partake in the twittering phenomenon.

The project runs workshops and mentorships to help locals use internet resources and practice citizen journalism.

By: Chwayitisa Futshane and Chem-Langhee Bifon

Mobile Technology is Africa's solution

Amidst the darkness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a little light shines.

HIV/Aids has affected and infected many people from all walks of life in an agonising way, particularly in Africa. Yet, the struggle is not lost. The whole world continues to search for ways to prevent, manage and cure the disease.

Cell-Life is one such organisation, striving to provide innovative technology solutions for the management of HIV/AIDS. It has come up with a new idea that addresses how organisations and communities can use mobile media in the fight against the pandemic. During their session, Using Mobile Media for Social Change, at the 2009 Highway Africa conference, Cell-Life introduced a new concept to combat the pandemic which is based on information communication technology (ICT) social empowerment.

The solution to Africas HIV/AIDS problem is cell phones. Armed with internet applications, cell phones can perform more functions just in one compact device than any other medium and they reach a large audience in Africa.

Cell-life uses cell phones for mass messaging- giving prevention and positive living information, linking patients and clinics whilst giving peer-to-peer support and counselling. And all of this can be done through a cell phone. Cell Life’s project also focuses on building organisational capacity for HIV-related organisations and also deals with monitoring and evaluating such projects.

For more information on Cell-Life you can visit their site on: www.cell-life.org.za or call them on: +27 21 469 1111.

By: Ongezwa and Zukiswa

Africa is capable

Journalist’s need to start believing that Africans are capable of achieving great things. Seeing that the world cup will be hosted on African soil, shouldn’t then the chief responsibility lie with Africa’s journalists to change the mindset of their colleagues abroad?

All doubts surrounding Africa’s capability to host the 2010 world cup were officially put to bed when journalists attended the Highway Africa MTN Opening Reception at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night. The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is one of the stadiums due to host semi-final matches for the 2010 world cup. The evening began with tours of Port Elizabeth and the stadium, showcasing exquisite architecture and staying true to elements of South African branding.


Hosted by MTN, the event was simply superb. Starters came and so did the speeches! Domini Bonnesse, lead architect of the stadium, presented the designing process of the stadium from base construction to the fine finishing. MTN’s Group Events and Corporate Affairs Executive Director, Nozipho January-Bardill, also shared her sentiments of pride and excitement at the opportunity of hosting the world cup.
Dr. Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee hammered away rumours concerning South Africa’s inability to host the world’s greatest gaming event. Jordaan highlighted that Africa has had to wait over a hundred years in order to host a world event of this magnitude. “We must engage our fellow journalists who live abroad… and we need to lead with news information that speaks the truth of this continent,” Jordaan said, encouraging African journalists to be the front runners in mapping Africa to the world.


Jordaan stated that Africa will pull in the biggest revenue in the history of any FIFA world cup. So far, Africa has the highest record of volunteers, currently standing at 15 000 and South Africa will be the first hosting country to have new stadiums built specially for the cup. And the stadiums are definitely in a class that the world has not witnessed yet.

And so, the countdown has begun! The construction is nearing completion with all stadia due to reach completion in October. All cities are under renovation and news and transport systems are being tested. So one can only ask how Africa can possibly not be ready when so much is being done.

By Amanda Onamandla Mathe

Opening the Highway

People must be educated and fed, before they can begin to appreciate democracy.” These were the cutting words of Salim Badat the Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University.

Speaking at the opening of the 13th Annual Highway Africa Conference, Badat tackled the Conference theme of “Reporting Africa: 2010, Development and Democracy”. He placed the concepts of democracy and development into two categories’, thin and thick. Badat explained thin democracy as looking at the formal and academic borders of the concept, while thick democracy acknowledged, defended and proclaimed the rights of individuals.

Badat also described development in these terms as he ascertained that thin development was more economic in its nature, while thick development encapsulated social and political norms which allow a country to move forward. The challenge that he put forward was for journalists to keep these ideas firmly in mind especially in reporting 2010.

Badats’ speech marked the beginning of the two day conference which consists of a number of class journalists, bloggers, academics and citizen journalists, who have descended on Rhodes University this week.

By: Chwayitisa Nandisa Futshane
Pics: Masebe Qina

07 September, 2009

Gender, Civil Society and Digital Media

The link between gender,civil society and digital media has never been easy to produce. Nthateng Mhlambiso and Maureen Agena are given the platform to bring up ways that assist in linking the concepts.They successfully do this by creating programmes that deal the 'women and their illiteracy and HIV in remote areas of Uganda' and the 'gays, lesbian, bisexuals, transgender and intersex'.

Highway Africa sponsors encourage ICT

Getting sponsors for any venture is no joke. And in the media, finding sponsors that encourage use of innovative technology and getting them to pledge allegiance and provide sustainability for new media projects might require a bit of wand weaving.

Yet, some corporations are thinking big and are investing in the future of Africa’s new media landscape. MTN, MultiChoice, Telkom and the Department of Communications are some of the giant players promoting the use of new technology in journalism and are currently exhibiting at the 2009 Highway Africa conference. These corporate titans are not solely sponsoring South Africa new media projects but have extended their reach to vast Africa as they are aware of the challenges African media is facing.

Group Executive for MTN Group, Zolisa Masiza says “we need journalists to cover the World Cup using the new technology that is easy to be used by everyone else.” Masiza adds that with Africa’s economic and infrastructural adversities, there is no easier way to approach the new media venture but through the most popular networking tool, the cell phone.

MultiChoice has introduced mobile television which citizens can view anywhere, enabling the watch of soccer matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Fathima Ebrahim, communications specialist at MultiChice SA says, “This mobile television is more advanced than the usual cell phone’s applications and it is only available in Africa for now.”

Reported by Lwando and Lucky.

Mapping Technology

By Samu and Anele

06 September, 2009

African Journalism is the New and Old

The Digital Citizen Indaba is a platform for discovering innovative ways of rapidly transporting information.

Traditional forms of communication are being broken at a radical pace. Gone are the days where schools would send out newsletters to inform parents of school meetings, changes in schedules and other important notices. School’s can now use short message services(sms’s)- the simplest, fastest and cost effective form of communication. So yes, this means there will be no more lying or hiding of letters from your parents.

Disbussi Tande, a blogger from Cameroon, was the keynote speaker at the State of Social Justice and Digital Media in Africa – one of the many session at the 2009 DCI. Tande said that “Once you have determined the tool, you need to identify the story you want told, and in which form and medium.” He emphasised that journalists need to figure out who they are targeting, in order to find objectives which then need to be accompanied with a strategy. This will determine the tool which can work best.

A perfect example of this is Facebook and Twitter- two of the greatest and newest forms of communication. These contain all sorts of interesting devices such as chatting to friends, showing off pictures and creating a community where citizens can voice their opinions.

Tande stated that traditional forms of communication are still very much alive however the process in which to obtain and publish information has not fallen away.

By: Amanda Onamandla Mathe

DCI Opening Reception

Gender and sexuality issues - a journalists' obligation

So, what do journalists say on gender and homosexuality- particulary in the age of digital citizens, where production of stories is in the hands of the individuals themselves?

Maureen Agenda of “Women of Uganda Network” spoke about what her organisation is doing to empower rural Ugandan women by giving them a platform for conversation about the problems and issues they face on a daily basis. She discussed how these women get an opportunity to converse about problems with farming their crops, looking after their households while living in polygamous marriages and the dangers of contracting HIV. In the panel discussion, termed, Gender, Civil Society and Digital Media, there was much deliberation around the reporting of issues related to sexuality and women, the primary focus being women in Uganda. Maureen established that the best mediums of communication for these women are radio and telephones as many of them are still uneducated.

This discussion took place at Eden Grove, Rhodes University in Grahamstown at the Digital Citizen Indaba Conference. The indaba forms part of the Highway Africa conference,running from 6-8 September. Highway Africa is currently abuzz with activity as a plethora of top class professional and citizens journalists have gathered to discuss the role journalism plays in reporting on issues affecting the marginalised.

Nthateng Mhlambiso, the Managing Editor of “Behind the Mask” spoke about the need for journalists to report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and inter-sex (L.G.B.T.I)issues in the media. The media was urged to assume its place in society and give minorities a voice even if that means having sector specific media.

By: Chwayitisa and Hunadi

Reporting Indaba09

Reporting Africa, 2010, Development and Democracy

Artfest July 2009

01 September, 2009

It's Possible

Well I haven't been telling you fellow FJP's how difficult it has been working at a Sunday paper. I still don't know WHY I got to do my inservice training at a Weekend paper, not that I'm complaining but it's for seasoned journalists. I don't even have proper contacts in the world of weekend newspapers and so it's become a mission for me to be a success.

Well I got my first lead story!!! It lead in the Sunday Tribune AND the Sunday Independent, but without my by-line (they cheated me :-) ), but either way I know that I got it.

I also got ANOTHER front page story. It was actually a series on prostitution in Durban and it was an eye-opener. I actually got teary eyed at one point- now don't judge me, even Buhle can shed a tear or two- and we were chased by P*I*M*P*S! That was scary, but it was also a huge adrenaline rush.

So guys it is possible, no matter how difficult and impossible you think it is, if you just pervere, you'll be fine!!!