Zapiro on his art

The brilliant – and often controversial – South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, has been under fire again recently for his portrayal of the country’s president-in-waiting Jacob Zuma. He has on occasion referred to himself as a ‘visual columnist’, using his art to contribute to debate in South Africa’s public sphere. In an interview with CNN he explains his views on free speech (even defending the problematic Danish cartoons that caused uproar when they were published in Jyllands Posten a few years ago) and talks about the criticism he receives from South African politicians and religious groups.

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Media freedom? Cholera treatment? Bah, humbug, says Mugabe. Let’s party on.

So Robert Mugabe is having a birthday party this weekend while a new case of cholera is registered at a rate of one a minute.

In this video by the Guardian a woman tells the heart-wrenching story of having no money to pay for the drip her sick husband needed: “On Wednesday I had no money. On Thursday he died”. Mugabe’s birthday party is said to cost £350 000.

Not surprisingly, Mugabe also dismissed demands for media freedom in the country.

These are the legacies that the new government of national unity will have to deal with – amid skepticism that the power-wrangling between Mugabe and Tsvangirai will bring about significant change soon enough to stem the tide of disease in the country.

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They strip journalists, don’t they?

Some bad news from Sierra Leone.  And, still, from Somalia.

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New media ‘mixed bag of blessings’

The 2007 elections in Kenya and their aftermath are emerging as a popular case study for those interested in how new media technologies might shape journalistic practices in Africa. The opportunities offered by cellphone messaging and blogging to circumvent the official ban on news broadcasts when violence flared up after the flawed (some would say ‘stolen’) election has been seen by some as an exciting development. The other side of the coin is that text messages were also used to spread incitement, causing some to draw comparisons with the infamous Radio Milles Collines in the Rwandan genocide. A recent report on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists quotes Catherine Gicheru, editor of the daily Nairobi Star “New information technology is a mixed bag of blessings”. Also see the BBC World Service Trust’s comprehensive policy briefing  here.

pic Reuters/CPJ.org

pic Reuters/CPJ.org

It’s an interesting debate.

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George Bush is dead… not really. But the tech guy might be fired.

AP/bbc.co.uk

AP/bbc.co.uk

Journos often regale one another about in-jokes making it into the paper, or on-air glitches that have everyone in stitches except the editor (and eventually the person being called into the boss’ office). This one might be doing the braai or pub rounds for a while: A South African technician working at the television station e-tv might have been too carried away with the post-Obama-election euphoria when he pushed the wrong button.

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Sri Lankan journalist ‘foretold his death’

A chilling story of a murdered Sri Lankan editor’s ‘voice from the grave’

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Journalism of people, not numbers

Ugandan journalist Richard Kavuma says the challenge for development journalism is to write stories about people, not about numbers, reports Laura Oliver on journalism.co.uk:

“The tone is changing and becoming more people-centred [in the Ugandan media]. For example, it’s not reporting about mortality, but writing about a woman who is lokatine-radio-delayssing her life for becoming pregnant. I can’t claim the credit, but I am part of a new movement, which is putting people at the centre of development reporting.”

He was speaking at an event in London hosted by the media forum POLIS to discuss The Guardian‘s project in the Ugandan village of Katine. Kavuma also highlighted some of the problems encountered by journalists working in developmental contexts where donors expect to hear feel-good stories about the work they are supporting rather than critical analyses of the situation.  Read a full report of the event here.  For background, see my earlier post here.

(Pic from The Guardian‘s Katine website)

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