I have on two previous occasions posted items on A24, the new African online news agency. With Obamania still thick in the air after the new US president-elect’s historic victory earlier this week, I took Journalism.co.uk’s advice and listened to the catchy Kenyan reggae song by Ohanglaman „Makadem“ offered on A24’s website. “Obama be they name” is cool and laid-back, as befits the new prez.
The vice-president of Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka, has called for journalists to further formalise the existing Journalist Association of Kenya (JAK) into a body that could ‘develop a modern code of ethics’ for journalists in the country.
Self-regulation of journalism by professional bodies in Africa (like everywhere) is important, since it helps journalists reflect on their work, improve standards and can act as a deterrent for government interference by creating a power bloc of journalists that can resist outside pressures. But professionalisation is a double-edged sword – it can also turn journalism into a members-only activity, from which people practising alternative forms of journalism to the corporate mainstream are shut out. In Kenya, with its vibrant blogosphere, care should be taken that professionalisation of journalism does not become a form of organisational protection offered to elites only.
Found the pic here
Not strictly to do with the media, but since the global financial meltdown has dominated world news, yet so little attention has been paid to how this crisis will affect developing countries, I thought it relevant to post this link to an interview that Inter Press Service did with South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu on the financial crisis. Tutu is always inspiring, not only for his integrity and wisdom, but also his optimism about the future of South Africa. On a day when I had to read another story of a white farmer being charged of violence against his workers (in this case leading to the death of a 13-year old girl), Tutu’s quote in the last paragraph seems almost defiantly optimistic: “You see headlines ‘vicious race riots’ and you think that is South Africa. And you read on, you find it is Manchester, England”
(I did this guest post on The Leo Africanus):
The mythic status that the news reader Riaan Cruywagen has attained in South Africa is almost akin to that of the US action hero Chuck Norris. Just like Norris, Cruywagen has been the subject of the kind of jokes (circulated by text or email, or told around braai fires) that ascribe superpowers to him in an ironic pastiche of the urban legend. One of these, ‘Riaan Cruywagen knows the news before it happens’ features as a on-screen quote in this quirky short film by Lucilla Blankenberg on the interesting website Why Democracy? (link). Cruywagen proudly (and only partly tongue in cheek) tells Blankenberg that he holds the world record for number of news bulletins read in Afrikaans. Cruywagen has been a familiar face on television since its (very late) arrival in apartheid South Africa in 1976, and is still to be seen on the SABC’s nightly news bulletins. Watching clips from his broadcasts over the years it is remarkable to see how little his physical appearance has changed. Rumours abound about how he manages this (wigs have been mentioned) but it is exactly this continuity through the tumultuous South African history as portrayed on (and in large parts ignored by) the public service broadcaster that explains Cruywagen’s appeal to especially the conservative Afrikaner viewership. When rumours surfaced in 2003 that the SABC planned to axe Cruywagen as part of a revamp, the Afrikaans community protested and Cruywagen remained firmly in his seat. For all Cruywagen’s claims to “neutrality” and “objectivity”, rhetorical constructs associated with the school of journalism that sees journalists as passive observers or stenographers of history, he has provided the apartheid regime’s propaganda machine with the genteel validation it needed to assure its white suburban viewers in the 1980s that although the country was burning around them, everything was still fine and the government was in control. Blankenberg’s film highlights some of the discrepancies between the world as it appeared on the TV screen and the world as it was lived on the streets back then, and confronts Cruywagen with the question of how he managed to work at the SABC at the time when so much skewing of reality was going on . Cruywagen unflinchingly responds that his role is that of a trained professional – ‘cool, calm and collected’ in the midst of the turmoil. This isn’t journalistic fairness and balance, but the abdication of responsibility and willful ventriloquism of His Master’s Voice. Fast forward to 2008. The ruling party might be splitting. The SABC is under fire for allowing government interference in its content. The SABC board is marred by the politics of ANC in-fighting. Cruywagen is still at his desk – cool, calm and all the rest. What does this tell us about the SABC?
Are the Western media better at telling feel-good stories about Africa? If this were true, it would go against the majority opinion that Africa only enters Western media discourses when there is a famine, drought or war to report on. Yet a report in the Kenyan newspaper The Nation seems to suggest otherwise.
The UK tabloid the Sun has admitted they made a mistake by publishing a picture of a palatial house from the movie Beethoven’s 4th claiming it belonged to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. The Sun admitted its mistake after the Press Complaints Commission received a complaint. Read more about it here