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25th Anniversary event: The Future of Journalism in Africa

RISJ Admin

Contributing Author

OXFORD UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE: Power of journalism in Africa
Can the media in Africa hold its governments to account?

On Saturday 27 September 150 key professionals who have worked in journalism or communications around the world will be at the University of Oxford to discuss 'The Future of Journalism in Africa', and talk about the pivotal role played by independent media in securing good governance. The discussion will be part of a weekend series of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme, formerly known as the Reuters Fellowship Programme.

The Future of Journalism in Africa

The panellists will use their own frontline experience to talk about the critical role that journalists are playing to fight corruption and make governments in Africa more accountable:

Bernard Tabaire, a Ugandan newspaper editor of The Sunday Monitor, is on bail after being charged with two counts of 'defamation' and could face a two year jail term if found guilty. The charges follow the publication of a story in the Monitor about the salary irregularities of a government minister responsible for fighting corruption. He will describe how Ugandan journalists are regularly arrested and the need to set up an internationally backed legal defence fund.

Geoffrey Nyarota is an award-winning investigative journalist, newspaper editor, and media entrepreneur, with 30 years of experience in Zimbabwe and southern Africa. He launched and edited the leading independent daily newspaper Daily News in Zimbabwe. In 2002 he was forced to flee Mugabe's Zimbabwe for his own safety. As editor of the Daily News he was arrested several times. He has received many international media awards, including the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalism) International Press Freedom Award. He is currently a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Tony Heard was editor of the Cape Times in South Africa for 16 years until he was dismissed without explanation. He was fired following the publication of a full-page interview in 1985 with banned president of the African National Congress, Oliver Tambo. Heard fought at home and abroad against restrictive press legislation during the apartheid era. His publications include the book The Cape of Storms; A Personal History of the Crisis in South Africa (published 1990). He is now working as a senior adviser in media policy for the Presidency of South Africa.

Sina Odugbeni runs the World Bank's Communications for Governance and Accountability Program. He has more than 20 years experience in journalism, law and development communication and before joining the World Bank he spent seven years heading up the UK development ministry DFID’s unit on Communications and Information for Development.

Journalists are welcome to attend the discussion/or interview participants the previous day on Friday 26 September at the University of Oxford. Please register your interest to Maria Coyle at the University of Oxford Press Office on 01865 280534 or email press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk

The panel discussion on The Future of Journalism in Africa will take place between 9.30-11.00am at Nissan Lecture Theatre, St Antony's College, Woodstock Road, Oxford.

Background: What the book The Bottom Billion has to say on press freedom in Africa

Professor Paul Collier CBE, Professor of Economics and Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies gives an example of where the media has been decisive in African politics in his award-winning book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. He relates events in Uganda in the mid 1990s when only around 20 per cent of the money that the Ministry of Finance released for primary schools actually reached schools. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Planning decided to take action so that each time the Ministry released money it informed the local media. The reports in the local newspapers ensured that instead of only 20 per cent getting through, 90 per cent of the funding got through to schools because of this scrutiny.(See p150).

Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme 

The Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme offers academic guidance for up to 30 experienced print and broadcast journalists every year who wish to undertake research projects on a variety of subjects. Fellows are selected from countries around the world. Whilst researching their subjects, fellows have the status of Visiting Scholars at Green College and enjoy access to Oxford University's facilities and resources. The Reuters Fellowship Programme was founded in 1983 and has, to date, brought over 400 journalists from more than 80 countries to study in Oxford.

Other highlights of the weekend marking 25th anniversary of the Programme

The two-day event to celebrate its 25th anniversary will include seminars, panels and a memorial lecture delivered by Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times. There will also be a discussion entitled 'Moral Maze' where the panel discuss whether good journalism is in crisis: participants include Nick Davies, Guardian journalist and author of Flat Earth News; Peter Jay, journalist and former BBC Economics Editor; and Mehdi Hasan, Commissioning Editor of Channel 4 News.

For more information about the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, click here

Thomson Reuters is the world-leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. They combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision-makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, scientific, healthcare and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organisation. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 50,000 people in 93 countries. Thomson Reuters shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TRI); Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:TRI); London Stock Exchange (LSE: TRIL); and Nasdaq (NASDAQ: TRIN). For more information, click here