WPFD Quotes

wangethi

Key messages World Press Freedom Day 2016

Courtesy of Unesco

  • Press freedom is confronted by growing challenges of blocking access to online information, which curbs both people’s access to information as well as the range of information and expression online.
  • The better the public access to information, the better the climate for respecting fundamental freedoms, including safety of journalists and creative cultural expression.
  • Access to information is not only an end in itself, but also a means as a whole, following Sustainable Development Goal 16 for the 2030 Agenda.
  • A culture of media freedom, pluralism and independence is essential for press freedom, highlighted in the Windhoek Declaration, adopted 25 years ago.
  • Threatening press freedom is threatening access to information, because without a free press, journalists cannot collect and report their information safely and independently.
  • Protecting online and offline journalism should be protected from surveillance overreach and widespread censorship.
  • Promoting press freedom and journalist safety will ensure public’s access to impartial and quality information.

Quotes

“As we observe WPFD 2016 and the role of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, we must also pause to question what press freedom must not do: It cannot be used to promote gender violence, to extol terrorism, to deny human rights, to encourage religious or racial bigotry and above all to be a tool for genocide…”

  • E. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana

“Press freedom is a basic human right as well as an indispensable constituent of democracy in every African country. Citizens in all African states will not be free until all media on the continent is free.”

  • The Africa Editors Forum

“The greatest challenge to media freedom is self-induced: Putting out content that has little regard for what audiences and readers want; disregarding the ethics of the profession; not maintaining high professional standards; and not paying adequate attention to the business dimension of the news business.”

  • Eric Chinje, Chief Executive Officer, African Media Initiative.

“At this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action, the need for quality information has never been so important – this requires a strong environment of press freedom and well-functioning systems to ensure the people’s right to know.”

  • Director-General, UNESCO, Irina Bokova

“The common thread among all World Press Freedom Day themes this year is the role of journalism as a specialized exercise of the right to free expression that uses professional standards and public interest as its lodestar.”

  • Assistant Director-General, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO, Frank La Rue

“We are not the enemy, but we are here to help because gathering information and giving true and objective information can only strengthen societies and I think that is something that I would really like to see high up on the agenda of Press Freedom Day and beyond.”

  • Christiane Amanpour, Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression, journalist and CNN chief International Correspondent

“I think democracy and civil society die in darkness without freedom of information, because without openness for journalists, they have no hope of illuminating the problems around the world and holding governments accountable.”

  • Doug Jehl – Foreign editor, The Washington Post, USA

“When a journalist is murdered, it is not any person killed, it is killing the possibility for people to access information. I believe our work needs to be engaged to reduce inequalities and protect the right to information.”

  • Ginna Morelo – President, Consejo de Redacción, Colombia

“I think our greatest undoing is to assume that Press freedom serves a special class of citizens called journalists. In truth, journalists only exercise that freedom on behalf of the people, and that’s why it’s worth defending.”

  • Wangethi Mwangi, Senior Advisor, African Media Initiative

Additional quotes compiled by AMI.

 

 

 

TAEF

 THE AFRICAN EDITORS FORUM

DECLARATION

ON WORLD MEDIA FREEDOM DAY

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated across the world to highlight press freedom, The All Africa Editors Forum notes that:

–         Governments across Africa have, through the various declarations and regulations, committed themselves to freedom of expression and of the press and media in general.

–         Journalists, editors continue to be harassed and detained, despite the commitment by various governments to the press freedom.

–         The African Union, celebrates its 52nd anniversary

–         The AU has an opportunity to force all government to sign and commit, in practice, to the Table Mountain Declaration, the 1991 Windhoek Declaration, in its 25th anniversary year, and the 2002 Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa

–         Some countries on our continent have not removed insult laws and continue to criminalize media offences.

Therefore TAEF declares that:

–         Africa needs strong, free and independent media to act as a watchdog over public institutions.

–         Press freedom is a basic human right as well as an indispensable constituent of democracy in every African country.

–         Citizens in all African states will not be free until all media on the continent is free

–         Nations of Africa needs a free media so that can provide them with information that would enable them to take informed decision about their lives.

–         Governments across the continent, who have pledged to uphold freedom of the media must walk the talk and stop harassing and detaining journalists and editors for doing their work.

–         Governments must immediately remove, from its statute books, ALL laws that are inimical to media freedom

–         AU must name and shame governments that violate freedom of the media and of expression

 

We as editors and journalists, again commit ourselves to:

–         Upholding the highest standards of excellence in journalism

–         Our work will always be guided by public interest

–         Maintaining credibility of the press and the trust of our readers

–         Always striving for the truth and avoiding unnecessary harm

–         Reflecting a multiplicity of voice in our coverage of events

–         Showing special concern for children and other vulnerable groups

 

Jovial Rantao,

President,

The African Editors Forum (TAEF)

 

World Press Freedom Day 2016

misa

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has offered for publication or broadcasting, a portfolio of more than 40 articles and video content on free media, free expression and access to information in sub-Saharan Africa.

The articles are written by journalists and media experts from West, East and Southern Africa. MISA has made them in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of UNESCO’s 1991 Windhoek Declaration on an Independent and Pluralistic African Press. The UN proclaimed the date of adoption of this ground-breaking Declaration, May 3, as World Press Freedom Day (WPFD).

The articles, accompanying pictures and short video messages can be accessed here for immediate use. They have been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.

African Free Press publication by Media Institute of Southern Africa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at whk25.misa.org.

The Regional Director of MISA, Ms. Zoe Titus, said from the organisation’s regional headquarters in Windhoek, Namibia: “MISA decided in consultation with a range of other African media freedom NGOs and experts to publish a special newspaper with broad popular appeal to general readers on WPFD this year, under the title of the African Free Press.

“We will distribute the newspaper on May 3 at various WPFD events across Africa in partnership with other media freedom organisations, but are also making the articles and audio-visual content accessible online on MISA’s website.

“In this way we hope to extend their reach as a public information service to citizens in Africa and to provide African media with a range of stimulating content from which to choose. However, any media, NGOs and other organisations in the world are also free to make use of any of this content and are not restricted to publishing these only on WPFD 2016.”

The two co-editors of the African Free Press are Jeanette Minnie and Hendrik Bussiek – both experts on media freedom challenges in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project was supported by DW Akademie (Germany’s leading organisation for international media development), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), fesmedia Africa – the Africa media project of (Germany’s) Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Namibia Media Trust through The Namibian newspaper and WordPress Namibia.

 

 

Media and the Future Africa

WPFD2016_Infographic_PS8-page-0

The Debate

A profound social transformation is taking place in Africa, fueled by new technologies, improving economies, education and the slow but certain return to democracy a l’Africaine. Within this context of change, the media, which is a key player in all social change processes, continues to stand on the periphery, unaware or uncertain of the role it must play.

However, it is evident that a silent but important debate on the roles and responsibilities of the media is taking place in Africa.  I believe it is possible to distinguish two, possibly more, but certainly two schools of thought that form the basis of that debate. They speak to the challenges, the constraints and possible approaches to understanding and ultimately addressing impediments to effective media action in Africa.

I want to briefly examine the main contours of those schools of thought and show how they may inform our efforts to ensure that Africa’s media is not only free and sustainable, but that it is also capable of making significant contributions to improving the quality of life on the continent.  I know that media is not often directly associated with Quality-of-Life issues. However, given its power to transform society, it is my firm conviction that Africa must see its future as much through the prism of politics and economics as through the role that media plays.

The schools of thought I have mentioned reflect where editors and media managers stand on their assessment of the industry today; these positions ultimately determine how media professionals approach their roles and responsibilities in society.

One school of thought holds that media in Africa is doing exactly what it can (and should do) given current constraints, which include, in many cases, unfriendly and sometimes hostile political environments, limited access to new technologies, a weak professional capacity, inexistent market and audience information, a reduced corps of competent media managers, and so on.  Let’s call this the School of Sufficiency – the “S” School!

The School of Insufficiency (the “I” School, for want of a better term) takes a wholly different stance: It argues that media in Africa could, in spite of known constraints, do a whole lot more. The growing voices from the “I-School” argue that media could do a much better job accompanying what is clearly a continental Renaissance; that they could better inform and moderate our public discourse, contribute more to ongoing social, economic and political conversations, and play a more decisive role in setting the national and regional development agenda.

  1. Media is doing as well as it should, thank you!
  2. Media is under-performing in the dynamic context of growth in Africa.

There is a historical necessity and a political urgency to resolving this debate and clearly defining the role of media in the transformations taking place in Africa,” according to one of the continent’s thought leaders on the subject, Professor Theophile Obenga of the Congo. He makes the point that until citizens across Africa develop a better understanding of the historical forces that shaped the continent and take an informed appreciation of where Africa is going, the perceived Renaissance will be little more than a pipe dream.  The role of media is central to the achievement of this endeavour, Professor Obenga concludes.

My friends and I have been taking a hard and critical look at the media industry in Africa; its strengths and weaknesses; its challenges and opportunities, and whether or not, in its current form, it is up to the task of helping determine the project to rewrite the course of African history and the narrative that goes with it.

Coming back to the debate, S-School proponents, who claim the media is doing as much as it can, point, first of all, to the rapid expansion of media organizations, the increasing access to new technologies, the unstoppable collapse of monolithic thought on media and the parallel growth in media freedoms across Africa, and to the multiplicity of forums that touch on one or more aspects of the question and try to find meaningful responses to them.

The I-School responds with more questions: Where is the media on the important issues facing a modernizing and emergent Africa? Are there any collective media thoughts or compelling reports on the critical issues of political and economic governance, youth unemployment, peace and security, regional integration, climate change, natural resource management, China-Africa relations, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the direction and quality of change on the continent? How are media professionals across the continent enriching citizen understanding of these critical issues, which are, today, re-designing the social, economic and political architecture of 21st century Africa?

The debate within the industry, between the Complacent S-School, and the Disruptive I-School, will go on for a while longer, energizing an environment in which media houses and professionals continue to try to position or reposition themselves in the dynamic processes of social transformation in Africa.

What is Going On?

On the ground, in the meantime, a lot is happening, even if there is a sense, sometimes, of disharmony, isolation, and uncoordinated action.  Last November, a Consultative Forum on Media Strategies, hosted by my organization – the African Media Initiative – brought together most of the key players in African media to seek to find synergies in their work and build a collaborative platform for collective action.  We have since engaged in some joint action, recently bringing together media leaders to places such as Addis Ababa, Abidjan, Kampala, Kinshasa, Nairobi, and N’Djamena, to emphasize respect for professional ethics, strengthen technological adaptation, define ways to put media at the very center of national and regional development, and agree on the media’s role in overall national governance.  It is these last two that sparked that defining debate on the role of the media in Africa today.

What Should Be Done?

There is an emerging consensus on what has to be done to achieve that which everyone currently agrees on: That Africa’s economic emergence will not be sustained; lasting peace will not be achieved, and social cohesion will not improve without the full implication of the media. Thus the following becomes an absolute necessity:

  1. Media – whether in hi-tech, mid-tech, low-tech or no-tech Africa – (media in all of these environments) must recognize the technological imperative to adapt or die.
  2. Social media is becoming the primary source of news for citizens across the region, closing in on a space that has remained the private preserve of radio. Industry leaders have to take note and act, or run the risk of losing those they are desperately trying to reach.
  3. Media and its support agencies must act to narrow the gap between media content and national development agendas.
  4. Thematic specialization is a powerful way of ensuring that media remains informed, knowledgeable and relevant. In spite of the huge financial constraints that this would seem to impose, strategies to deal with this imperative would have to be found. AMI has brought one such strategy to the market.
  5. Joint content production and the pooling of resources are a necessity and may well soon become the order of doing business. Media leaders ought to understand that and get on with it.
  6. It is imperative to know what audiences and readers want, and work to deliver the goods. Media market research is wanting in most of the continent – a situation that should be corrected as soon as possible.
  7. The greatest challenge to media freedom is self-induced: putting out content that has little regard for what audiences and readers want; disregarding the ethics of the profession; not maintaining high professional standards; and not paying adequate attention to the business dimension of the news business.

Conclusion

I started off with the defining debate that is taking place in the media industry in Africa.  I conclude with the areas where consensus now exists. These points of agreement constitute, I believe, the elements of a programme of assistance to the media in Africa as well as the common platform for action by the continent’s media industry actors.

It is with some measure of pride that I point out that we have media leaders from Africa who are already acting on that agenda, building resilient systems that take these elements into account. Their work needs to be supported and scaled up. They are finally telling Africa’s story, from an African perspective, to African and to the world. They are also bringing the world to Africa, in ways that have never been done before. In ways that may not be obvious to most, they are among the true defenders of freedom, who should be recognized as we all celebrate World Press Freedom Day!

By Eric Chinje

A presidential rallying call to action

Cartoon by Zapiro. All rights reserved. For more Zapiro cartoons, visit: www.zapiro.com

Cartoon by Zapiro. All rights reserved. For more Zapiro cartoons, visit: www.zapiro.com


Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has urging the media to give meaning to Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In an opinion piece to mark the World Press Freedom Day, President Mahama calls on what he refers to as Freedom of Expression Alliances to “join forces under the umbrella of Goal 16”, adding: “In a world dominated by football, Goal 16 would most definitely find resonance as a rallying call.”

Target 16.10 of the Goal requires governments to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreement”.

Last week, Kenya’s parliament passed the Access to Information Bill, which had been pending for some time. Once signed into law, it will allow members of the public access to classified information held by the government and other public authorities. The Bill now awaits presidential assent to make it law.

The Bill is in keeping with the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which states that, “Public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians of the public good and everyone has a right to access this information, subject only to clearly defined rules established by law.”

In 2012, the Commission developed a Model Law on Access to Information in Africa. Since then, only a handful of countries have developed such legislation.

By Wangethi Mwangi

 

 

 

 

New ethics code for a common purpose

eric-carvin

Eric Carvin, board member, Online News Association.


 

AMI supports social media ethics code

April, 2016 — The African Media Initiative has asked to be listed as a supporter of a Social Newsgathering Code of Ethics launched on April 1, 2016, by the Online News Association.

The code, described by its sponsors as “a set of best practices that cover everything from verification to rights issues to the health and safety of sources — and of journalists themselves”, has attracted support from a variety of international media such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Eurovision News Exchange, Eyewitness Media Hub, First Draft, Reported.ly, Storyful, The Guardian, Verification Junkie, Ethical Journalism Network, Fresco News, and Verifeye Media.

At the launch, ONA’s board member and chair of its News Ethics Committee, Eric Carvin, said: “We’re constantly reminded of the need for best practices such as these. The recent bombings in Brussels, Ankara, Lahore and Yemen, among others, provided yet another stark and tragic reminder of how information and imagery spread, in a matter of moments, from the scene of an unexpected news event to screens around the world.”

He added: “Moments like these challenge us, as journalists, to tell a fast-moving story in a way that’s informative, detailed and accurate. These days, a big part of that job involves wading through a roiling sea of digital content and making sense out of what we surface.”

Welcoming the code, Eric Chinje, AMI’s chief executive officer, said the pan-African body had not hesitation in supporting the initiative, which, “in a very resounding way, buttresses our own efforts to strengthen the ethical basis of journalism”. He urged news organizations that care for entrenchment of professional standards to support the code and promote its application in their particular jurisdictions.

The code lays out the following practices:

  • Endeavoring to verify the authenticity of user-generated content before publishing or distributing it, holding it to standards that are equal or equivalent to those maintained for content acquired through other means.
  • Being transparent with the audience about the verification status of UGC.
  • Considering the the emotional state and safety of contributors.
  • Considering the risk inherent in asking a contributor to produce and deliver UGC, including whether it incentivizes others to take unnecessary risks.
  • Considering technical measures to ensure anonymity of sources when required.
  • Seeking informed consent for the use of UGC through direct communication with the individual who created it.
  • Being transparent about how content will be used and distributed to other platforms.
  • Giving due credit to the owner of the content providing that consideration has been given to potential consequences, including their physical, mental and reputational well-being.
  • Endeavoring to inform and equip journalists to confront the dangers of engaging with sources through social media networks and the digital footprint they leave behind.
  • Supporting and assisting journalists who are confronted with graphic or otherwise disturbing content. Maintaining an organizational culture that enables journalists to seek help or speak out when they need to protect their mental health. (Source:socialnewsgathering@journalists.org)

 

About AMI

Managing expectations in the oil sector

Charles IMG_0049 (1)

Charles Wanguhu of Kenya’s Civil Society Platform presenting research findings on oil exploration in the country.


 

Nairobi, April 2016 – Kenya’s civil society is already training its sights on the country’s oil industry and asking some penetrating questions ahead of the anticipated production in the next few years.

At a recent media café organized jointly by Oxfam and the African Media Initiative, the Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (KCSPOG). presented to journalists the results of a survey that seem to suggest that the expectations raised by the oil find in Turkana County in northern Kenya are unrealistic.

Titled Protecting future oil revenues priorities in advance production, the research draws attention to issues around award of contracts and licences; regulation and monitoring of operations, collections of taxes and royalties, revenue management and allocation, and implementation of sustainable development policies and projects.

Presented by Charles Wanguhu of KCSPOG and Wairu Kinyori of Oxfam, the research shows that 27 parent companies own petroleum rights either as operators of joint venture partners in Kenya while others own rights either through tax haven subsidiaries, low tax jurisdictions or by using additional tax havens in their wider corporate structures.

To safeguard Kenya’s interests, the civil society platform recommends, among other measures:

  • Full disclosure of all existing production sharing contracts, operators, and joint partners;
  • A formal review of tax treaties and use of tax havens as well as government analysis of companies’ use of tax haven subsidiaries.

Responding to the presentation, AMI’s Chief Executive Officer, Eric Chinje, congratulate Oxfam and the civil society platform for what he described as a ground-breaking initiative.

“I have seen a lot of African publications, from Chad, Ghana, Mauritania, etc,” he said, “and I can tell you that, no country has done what Kenya is doing; when I say Kenya, it means what Charles and Wairu have done.”

He urged the journalists at the presentation to think hard about what they had just been taken through, pointing out that the research findings were not an ordinary report, but “the beginning of a long process”.

He told the journalists that they had a duty to manage citizens’ expectations. “Citizens need to get a sense of what we are doing,” he said. “People are seeing revenue already; they have a right to expect what we are doing; it’s for you in simpler language to make them know the position of this issue.”

Chinje, a former World Bank director of communications, said he had not seen any country where journalists were involved in such discussions at the very initial stage. As they got to understand the issues, he said, they would make a change in the country and as well as in the rest of the region.

Focus on Africa Development Week 2016

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy


 

Addis Ababa, April 2016 – At the African Development Week held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the issues for discussion included action plans to achieve regional integration, industrialization, migration and financing for development, the green economy, the problem of measuring corruption in Africa, and restoration of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Highlights of Economic Commission for Africa’s initiatives

  • Launch of Regional Integration in Africa VII and Africa Regional Integration Index to ensure the continent has “clear fact-based benchmarks and standards to assess its overall progress, and simultaneously provide a mechanism for comparing performance and learning from each other”.
  • Launch of Africa’s Blue Economy Policy Handbook, described as a tool to equip Africa harness “The New Frontier of African Renaissance”. Highlighting the importance of the blue economy, ECA’s Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes pointed out that,Freshwater and ocean fish make a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million Africans.”
  • Launch of Economic Report on Africa.

Source: Communication Section, ECA, Addis Ababa

A development agenda for the media

EC IMG_0083

Eric Chinje, CEO African Media Initiative 


 

AMI supports social media ethics code

April, 2016 — The African Media Initiative has asked to be listed as a supporter of a Social Newsgathering Code of Ethics launched on April 1, 2016, by the Online News Association.

The code, described by its sponsors as “a set of best practices that cover everything from verification to rights issues to the health and safety of sources — and of journalists themselves”, has attracted support from a variety of international media such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Eurovision News Exchange, Eyewitness Media Hub, First Draft, Reported.ly, Storyful, The Guardian, Verification Junkie, Ethical Journalism Network, Fresco News, and Verifeye Media.

At the launch, ONA’s board member and chair of its News Ethics Committee, Eric Carvin, said: “We’re constantly reminded of the need for best practices such as these. The recent bombings in Brussels, Ankara, Lahore and Yemen, among others, provided yet another stark and tragic reminder of how information and imagery spread, in a matter of moments, from the scene of an unexpected news event to screens around the world.”

He added: “Moments like these challenge us, as journalists, to tell a fast-moving story in a way that’s informative, detailed and accurate. These days, a big part of that job involves wading through a roiling sea of digital content and making sense out of what we surface.”

Welcoming the code, Eric Chinje, AMI’s chief executive officer, said the pan-African body had not hesitation in supporting the initiative, which, “in a very resounding way, buttresses our own efforts to strengthen the ethical basis of journalism”. He urged news organizations that care for entrenchment of professional standards to support the code and promote its application in their particular jurisdictions.

The code lays out the following practices:

  • Endeavoring to verify the authenticity of user-generated content before publishing or distributing it, holding it to standards that are equal or equivalent to those maintained for content acquired through other means.
  • Being transparent with the audience about the verification status of UGC.
  • Considering the the emotional state and safety of contributors.
  • Considering the risk inherent in asking a contributor to produce and deliver UGC, including whether it incentivizes others to take unnecessary risks.
  • Considering technical measures to ensure anonymity of sources when required.
  • Seeking informed consent for the use of UGC through direct communication with the individual who created it.
  • Being transparent about how content will be used and distributed to other platforms.
  • Giving due credit to the owner of the content providing that consideration has been given to potential consequences, including their physical, mental and reputational well-being.
  • Endeavoring to inform and equip journalists to confront the dangers of engaging with sources through social media networks and the digital footprint they leave behind.
  • Supporting and assisting journalists who are confronted with graphic or otherwise disturbing content. Maintaining an organizational culture that enables journalists to seek help or speak out when they need to protect their mental health. (Source:socialnewsgathering@journalists.org)

About AMI

AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data, basic science, and development journalism.

 

AMI holds Uganda Digital Migration Workshop

DigMigUG-GroupShot (1)

The migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting whose global deadline was set for 17th June 2015 is yet to fully take place in Africa. Nine months past this deadline, Mauritius, Tanzania and Kenya are the only African countries that have completely switched off analogue television service to date. As the global deadline has long passed, a number of countries are still facing significant challenges. In support of efforts by media outlets to switch to digital broadcasting, The African Media Initiative (AMI) organized a workshop in Uganda targeting media owners and operators, policy makers, regulatory body officials and other stakeholders.

 

The two-day training workshop was held at the Office of the Prime Minister Conference Hall in Kampala, Uganda, on 16-17 March 2016. The workshop focused on key factors that should be considered in developing and implementing a country’s Digital Television Transition Plan, including pre- and post-transition technical issues, policy considerations, spectrum management decisions and consumer awareness. Participants interacted with and learnt from experts drawn from countries that have already completed the transition and can speak to the lessons learned from those experiences. Delegates at the workshop called on governments to waive taxes on free to air decoders and other equipment needed for the digital migration.

 

The workshop was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.