The University of Central Lancashire and its School of Journalism partners from three African Universities have hosted a major Symposium in Nairobi to discuss some key issues facing the future of African journalism.
The Symposium brought together more than a hundred and sixty East African and International media leaders, editors, academics and young journalism students from nineteen African Schools of Journalism to share their thoughts and come up with some practical steps on how best to tell their stories without fear or favour to a new generation both inside and outside Africa.
UCLan’s Associate Professor George Ogola told the Symposium: “The enormity of the challenge is to chart a new way forward by appreciating that the Africa story is not just a story of turmoil but a story of success as well as failure”.
In his keynote speech Churchill Otieno, the Chair of the Kenyan Editors Guild said:
“Our journalism is a torch as well as a mirror. We need to embrace a credible media in this age of fake news. We need fact checking and professional standards to pass on to the next generation”.
Churchill said most Schools of Journalism weren’t producing young journalists who are equipped for working in digital although we are living in an age where digital journalism comes first for our audiences.
Africa sits on the cusp of a demographic revolution that will see its population double to more than two billion people by 2050 and this young population was a theme picked up on throughout the day.
The former BBC correspondent and author Kevin Mwachiro told the Symposium:
“We need to start listening to young people. They want stories that they relate to and if we in the media provide that content the audiences are there. Amazing things are happening on Youtube and in Podcasts and we need to use these opportunities for cross-platforms because people are hungry for good content”
In the afternoon session the youth were brought centre stage when the winners and finalists of the major Kenyan TV show “Top Story” told the Symposium of their own aspirations for the future of African journalism. Top Story is produced by Africa On Air and challenges more than twenty student journalist teams to research and film their own investigations.
The winning story by the team from Mount Kenya University exposed a scam to rip off the poor in which criminals cut off water supplies to a village and then two days later they sell the villagers water from tankers at exorbitant prices.
UCLan’s partner university Multimedia were runners-up and one of its team Millicent Njeri brought the house down when she gave her definition of what she thought the future of African journalism is:
“Our job is to make people stop, think, and change lives”
The Symposium made a massive impact inn Kenya. It attracted more than 360,000 tweets and trended at number two in the Kenya Twittersphere.