Junior Bester -
I arrived at the Highway Africa conference not really knowing what to expect, however I knew that it was an opportunity for me to gain valuable experience, contacts and knowledge.
The first night I spent at the conference was my introduction to blogging. I immediately began fascinated with blogging and felt it could provide a real future for journalists. I feel that when the internet ultimately kills print media. Print journalists and aspiring print journalists can easily turn to blogging as a way getting their views across. Also with the use of blogs it is possible to reach a much broader audience as anybody from around the world can access your blog. I feel blogging can be a really important tool in the future of journalism and I truly enjoyed learning about it during this conference.
During my first lecture I attended I heard of the problems that plighted African journalists. These problems were the oppression they experienced in their own continent and the lack of a major African voice in the global media. The oppression factor was a major problem for me as I felt that if journalists keep getting oppressed then freedom of speech would be greatly jeopardised. I felt it was important for gathering of such stature to discuss this issue and try to come up with a solution. After the first session we were then enlisted to compile a blog entry of our first day. This was my first blog that I posted and I felt a sense of pride to see my work published instantly onto the worldwide web.
The second day of the conference gave me the pleasure to meet Chansa Tembo, a Zambian video producer. Through Chansa I learnt that if you have a vision and the passion to be what you want then you can achieve great things. We were required to post a blog on somebody at the conference and I thought it would be perfect to make my profile about Chansa Tembo. I also attended a workshop about online journalism which introduced me to a few programmes that would assist me in the future as well as tips that I should follow.
The third day of the conference showed me the impact that social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook have on our world today. I learnt that the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo use these sites to rely messages of hope and sympathy to one another during their countries turmoil. They also use these sites to spread messages to people across the world and have since gathered many support form all over the world. A radio deejay from Haiti also showed us how the use of Twitter and Facebook helped him find his family during the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti this year. He showed us how he was able to take pictures of the destruction and upload it to these sites. He also showed us how he was able to spread messages to the authorities of people struggling for their life or people trapped in their houses.
The conference has also introduced me to young journalists from all over South Africa and I have since forged good relationships with them and hopefully these will help me in the future. The conference has been a massive source of knowledge for me and I also enjoyed the opportunity to network with journalists from different countries as well as heads of important media houses around Africa and the world. It has given me the chance to make valuable contacts and for that I am extremely grateful.