PRESS STATEMENT : AMI, Int’l Human Rights Groups And Press Organizations Make Recommendations on Freedom of Expression in Doha International Conference



AMI, Int’l Human Rights Groups And Press Organizations Make Recommendations on Freedom of Expression in Doha International Conference

Nairobi, 28 July 2017: The African Media Initiative (AMI) was invited to participate in a two-day international Conference on Freedom of Expression in Doha, Qatar. The conference, which was organized by the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) of Qatar in cooperation with the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Institute under the theme “Freedom of Expression: Facing Up to the Threat”, took place on July 24-25, 2017.

AMI’s Chief Executive Office, Eric Chinje, and Senior Advisor Wangethi Mwangi, represented the pan-African media organization as part of 200 participants from around the world.

Recommendations of the International Conference “Freedom of Expression, Facing up to the Threat”

Doha, Qatar 24-25 July 2017
We, representatives of international, regional and national organisations of journalists, human rights and freedom of expression groups meeting at the International Conference in Doha, Qatar on 24-25 July 2017, organised by the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar in co-operation with the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Institute,
Condemn unequivocally the threats by the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Bahrain, demanding the closing down of Al Jazeera and other media outlets, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.


Express our total solidarity with journalists and other media and ancillary workers at Al Jazeera and other targeted media.


This Conference recommends: 
Conference recognizes the numerous resolutions adopted in recent years by the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council deploring the impact of attacks against journalists and other media workers on the public’s right to information and freedom of expression, and expressing concern at the chilling effect that such attacks, especially when perpetrated with impunity, have on the media as a whole.

Conference also expressly recognizes that the work of media professionals often places them at specific risk of intimidation, harassment and violence (UN Security Council Resolution 2222 (2015), UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 of 29 September 2016, and UN General Assembly Resolution 70/162 of 17 December 2015 on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity). In addition, it has been widely recognized that ensuring accountability for all forms of violence against journalists and other media professionals is a key element in preventing future attacks.

Conference supports the developing of a new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists, including a specific enforcement mechanism, which would improve the international response to attacks against journalists and the culture of impunity. A Convention on the Safety of Media Workers, potentially negotiated within the UN General Assembly, would present the advantage of systematizing the relevant obligations inferable from multiple legal texts and making them more accessible to decision-makers and law-enforcement authorities and bringing together the applicable human rights and humanitarian law norms, tailoring them to the situation of journalists.

Such a Convention includes, for example, the obligation to protect journalists against attacks on their life, arbitrary arrest, violence and intimidation campaigns, the obligation to protect against forced disappearances and kidnapping (by state agents or private actors), the obligation to carry out effective investigations into alleged interferences and to bring the perpetrators to justice; in the context of armed conflict, the obligation to treat media workers and facilities as civilians (and hence illegitimate targets) and to conduct military operations with due diligence in such a way as to avoid unnecessary risks to journalists reporting on the conflict.

Conference finally believes that current legal provisions should be expanded beyond the obligation to protect journalists against attacks on their life, and include forced disappearances and kidnapping (by state or private actors), arbitrary arrest, intimidation, deportation/refusal of entry, confiscation/damage to property and new forms of violence experienced by journalists during the 2011 Arab Spring, and further develop Human Rights Council resolutions S-2/1 and S-9/1 concerning the attacks on media installations and allowing access as well as safe media corridors in conflict zones.

Conference, therefore, calls on governments:

  1. To recognize all recommendations, covenants, declarations and resolutions promulgated or endorsed by international organisations such as the UN and its agencies such as UNESCO;
  2. To implement forthwith the UN latest plan of action and enhance their working with organisations dedicated to the safety of journalists and media workers;
  3. To acknowledge and accept their obligations to give journalists protection as civilians in situations of conflict;
  4. To strengthen national mechanisms and laws, including criminal laws and overhaul justice system to end impunity and to provide judicial and legislative assistance to prevent serious violations of international humanitarian laws including the targeting of journalists.

It also calls on news organisations to acknowledge their duty of care for all their journalists, in particular news gatherers, staff or freelance and their responsibility to provide hostile environment safety training and equipment whether at time of conflict or not.

Believing that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), defined as the freedom “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” along with its corollaries of freedom of information and press freedom, freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy;

Believing also, as set out by UNESCO, that states have a duty to ensure that legislation designed to address national security and crime concerns does not override source protection laws other than in narrowly defined exceptional circumstances and that states legislate to protect the rights of sources;

Conference calls on governments to recognize the right of media organisations to report information freely and without interference from government and to allow citizens to access information on their own government and institutions in the cause of transparency and accountability.

It also calls on governments to limit their ability to curtail media access and set the limits of reporting and access to information and allow transparent and independent adjudication on decisions relating to publication.

Conference also acknowledges the vital role played by trade unions in supporting freedom of expression for journalists and defending the right of journalists to report on often contentious issues and hold power to account.

Recognising the danger in establishing legal limits on expression, and accepting the risks in allowing states the ability intervene on online information, conference calls on governments and media organisations to work to challenge hate speech, including misogyny, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and extremism, and to promote the idea that encouraging a plurality of ideas and ideologies is the solution to challenge bigotry and prejudice.

Conference also calls on journalists to respect codes of conduct that demand fairness, accuracy and the need to oppose the scapegoating of minorities and pandering to prejudice and ignorance.


Conference recognizes that the freedom of expression and in particular of the media is inextricably linked to the freedom of media workers to carry out their professional role without fear of intimidation or discrimination.

Acknowledging the central role of the International Labour Organization in establishing and implementing global labour standards:

Conference recognizes the vital principles enshrined in the eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization, including (i) Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and (ii) Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).

The right to just and favorable conditions of work is contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recognizing the ability of trade unions to protect and defend the right to freedom of expression through codes of conduct, the setting of professional standards and collective endeavors,

Conference calls on government to honour the provisions of Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to act in compliance with the conventions of the International Labour Organization.

Participants agree to transmit these recommendations to regional and international institutions and to governments,
Participants recommend that all working papers and reports of workshops are considered as official documents and will be published in agreement with the authors.
Finally, participants express their appreciation and thanks to the National Human Rights Committee of QatarCHR for its efforts to organise the Doha conference and call upon it to continue its work with other concerned parties to implement the adopted recommendations.


My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin interview

PassingAway of AMI Chair
Nairobi, 31 May 2018 - The Board and Management of the African Media
Initiative (AMI) has just been informed of the passing away into eternity of our
beloved Chairman, Gbadebowale Aboderin. Mr. Aboderin died in a Lagos
hospital during heart surgery.

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin


Who is Mr. Wale Aboderin?

My name is Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper. We publish three print newspapers and two digital newspapers. We also run four major print presses in Nigeria. We have very strong pro-public credentials because of our support for democracy, during the fight against military rule and afterwards, and our campaigns for social justice.

I trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. I was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. But I have been involved in the newspaper business for decades. PUNCH was co-founded by my father and he introduced me to the business early. And this experience has helped in fashioning a vision that led to some great changes in the editorial quality, management and its fortunes.

I am also involved in music and sports. I am the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. I used to be the former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and I am a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

How do you feel about your election as the new chair of the African Media Initiative?

I feel humbled and pleased with this new responsibility, although it comes with the challenges of promoting the vision of a fantastic organization whose potential should not be abridged by limited resources. Thank you for inviting me to join the battle for a strengthened media landscape in Africa.  I have always succeeded in my ventures. I am here to ensure AMI does not fail its mission of transforming the media landscape in Africa.

What is your vision for the organization?

I have always believed that the biggest resource in any organization is human capital and the biggest investment is human development. My people perish for lack of knowledge, says the Good Book. Since I joined AMI board, I have never regretted being part of this beautiful project. The more I stayed, the more I like the organization’s mandate. It is important that we invest in human capital. Punch has already become too big in Nigeria and little by little we have been looking for an opportunity to go regional and AMI is empowering me to go around these countries and push for the initiatives developed by AMI. These trips will help me to rediscover Africa and see the opportunities on the continent.

My vision, to start with, is to focus on making AMI a better and greater organization. If you have a fine dress, everybody will see the missing button. So, I don’t want to see AMI staff as the missing button. I want you people to be engaged and know that there is something great to be done. The other part of the vision is to partner with others to develop the capacity of journalists and media companies across Africa. PUNCH is celebrated for its integrity and had I not seen the same integrity in the leadership and vision of AMI, I wouldn’t have accepted to be part of the project.

I insist that print publishers can still survive but we can’t just sit back and wait for new readers to emerge. It’s time to ‘reinvent the wheel’. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges for African media in the 21st century and what are your thoughts on the future of print media?

Ah! The greatest challenge in this century is digital disruption. The lack of true press freedom is also a big challenge in several places in Africa. But I expect this to become less of a problem as we move forward and the ideals of democracy spread on the continent. For example in Nigeria, PUNCH and other newspapers campaigned against military rule. With democracy, the press is freer although things are not perfect.

The use of mobile phones and other digital devices are growing across Africa. People, especially our teeming population of youth, prefer to get their news from the Internet and social media. My daughters, for example, get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are also quite popular in Nigeria.

But the future of print in Africa is not as bleak as painted. I always tell my team that a form of growth is still possible. However, as publishers, we would need to moderate our returns on investment expectations. Print publishers shouldn’t expect to be as profitable as they once were. In PUNCH we are exploring cross-media opportunities in a way that would help us to use the newly found strengths of our digital initiatives to help the weaknesses of print. So, African media need to constantly reinvent in order to stay in business and relevant.

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Mr. Wale Aboderin 

new AMI chair


Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

Communiqué de presse

Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

Nairobi, 23 juin 2017 – Une cinquantaine de responsables de haut niveau évoluant dans les secteurs des médias et des élections vont se réunir pendant deux jours pour discuter de la « Couverture des élections en Afrique ». L’atelier se déroulera les 3 et 4 juillet à Nairobi, en présence des participants issus des pays africains appelés à organiser des élections présidentielles ou législatives dans les 18 prochains mois.

Cet atelier est une initiative conjointe de l’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) et de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Il bénéficie également du soutien de l’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (IDEA).

Les élections constituent un test majeur de la démocratie et de la bonne gouvernance en Afrique depuis au moins les deux dernières décennies au cours desquelles un certain nombre de pays du continent ont réussi à organiser des élections multipartites. L’un des principaux objectifs de l’atelier est de réunir, professionnels des médias, responsables des structures chargées d’organiser les élections et experts électoraux d’Afrique francophone et anglophone pour discuter de manière ouverte et interactive. Il sera question, plus précisément de voir dans quelle mesure une couverture médiatique appropriée peut conduire à parfaire la réussite d’un processus électoral.

Evoquant l’atelier, Eric Chinje, le PDG d’AMI, a déclaré que « les échanges durant ces deux jours offriront aux professionnels des médias une occasion unique de partager leurs expériences et bonnes pratiques mais aussi d’acquérir de solides connaissances auprès de experts impliqués dans l’organisation des élections. Ces échanges mutuellement bénéfiques aideront sans doute à développer un ensemble de connaissances susceptibles d’être partagées à travers le continent ».

Tidiane Dioh, coordonnateur des Programmes des médias de l’OIF pour sa part, demeure convaincu qu’ « une élection ne se limite pas à introduire un bulletin de vote dans l’urne. L’électeur doit disposer de toutes les informations pertinentes sur ceux qui sollicitent les suffrages, sur les enjeux et sur les programmes. Or, seuls des médias professionnels et libres permettent d’assurer une telle information ».

L’atelier se tiendra au Centre de conférence Desmond Tutu à Nairobi, au Kenya. Les pays participants viendront d’Algérie, d’Angola, du Cameroun, de la Côte d’Ivoire, de la République démocratique du Congo, du Gabon, du Kenya, du Libéria, de Madagascar, du Mali, du Rwanda, de la Sierra Leone, du Sénégal et du Zimbabwe.


Pour plus d’informations, prière de contacter le responsable des relations avec les médias et du rayonnement, Justus Machio, par e-mail à l’adresse suivante, ou par téléphone au numéro : +254700857024

À propos d’AMI

L’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) est une organisation panafricaine ayant pour but de renforcer les médias privés et indépendants du continent, en mettant l’accent sur les propriétaires et les gestionnaires, afin de promouvoir la gouvernance démocratique, le développement social et la croissance économique. Elle y œuvre grâce à un ensemble d’activités stratégiques visant à transformer le paysage des médias et des communications sur le continent. L’objectif global d’AMI est de promouvoir l’émergence des médias pluralistes en tant qu’ingrédient nécessaire et crucial de la gouvernance démocratique, ainsi que du développement économique et humain en Afrique.

À propos de l’OIF

L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) a été fondée en 1970 et a son siège social à Paris. Sa mission est d’incarner la solidarité active entre ses 84 États membres et les gouvernements qui, ensemble, représentent plus d’un tiers des États membres des Nations Unies et une population de plus de 900 millions de personnes, dont 274 millions de francophones. L’OIF mène essentiellement des activités de nature politique et des actions de coopération multilatérale au bénéfice des populations sur les cinq continents.

À propos de l’IDEA
L’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (International IDEA) est une organisation intergouvernementale qui soutient la démocratie durable à travers le monde. La mission d’IDEA International est de favoriser le renforcement des institutions et processus démocratiques, ainsi qu’une démocratie durable, plus efficace et plus légitime. Composé de trente Etats membres, International IDEA travaille dans ses quatre domaines d’expertises: les processus électoraux; la participation et la représentation politique; l’élaboration de constitutions ; et la démocratie et le développement, ainsi qu’en matière de démocratie en relation à l’égalité des genres, la diversité, les conflits et la sécurité. De sa base à Addis-Abeba, le programme Afrique et Asie de l’Ouest d’IDEA International collabore étroitement avec les acteurs nationaux et les organisations régionales pour réaliser des activités dans plus de 40 pays. Les priorités du programme sont le constitutionnalisme, le dialogue entre les partis politiques, l’intégrité électorale, la gouvernance des ressources naturelles, la participation des jeunes et la représentation des femmes.

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

Press Statement

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

 Nairobi, 23 June 2017 – Some 50 high-level media practitioners, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts will meet over two days to discuss the ‘Covering of Elections in Africa’. The workshop will be held on July 3- 4 in Nairobi, bringing together 13 countries from both Anglophone and Francophone Africa that are preparing to conduct elections over the next 18 months. 

This workshop is a combined effort of the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). It is also benefiting from the additional support of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Elections have always been an important feature of the democratic and governance structure in Africa and the last two decades have seen a number of countries on the continent organise multi-party polls. One of the key objectives of the workshop is to bring together the media, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts from both Francophone and Anglophone Africa to discuss in a frank, open and interactive manner. The discussion will focus on what can be done to better understand elections and, in the process; help consolidate the quality of reporting.

Speaking about the workshop, Eric Chinje, CEO of AMI, said “the two-day deliberations will offer a unique forum for sharing experiences and expertise, and gaining valuable knowledge from professionals who have been closely involved in the running and coverage of elections.” Chinje hopes that this cross-fertilization of ideas will help towards the development of a body of knowledge that can be shared across the continent.

Tidiane Dioh, Coordinator of the Media Programme at OIF, is convinced that “elections are much more than casting one’s vote”. According to him, “the voter must have access to a whole array of relevant information concerning the electoral process and such a role and responsibility remains the purview of a free, independent and professional media”.

The workshop will be held at the Desmond Tutu Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Participating countries are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Zimbabwe.


For more information, kindly contact AMI’s Media Relations Manager, Justus Machio, via e-mail on or on +254700857024

About AMI

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector from an owner and operator perspective to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

About OIF

The International Organisation of La Francophonie was created in 1970 and has its head office in Paris. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 84 member states and governments which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers. OIF organises political activities and actions of multilateral cooperation that benefits people living in the five continents.

About IDEA
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics. Composed of thirty member states, International IDEA works across four key impact areas, notably: electoral processes; political parties representation & participation; constitution-building and democracy and development. It also addresses the important issues of gender, diversity, and conflict and security as they relate to democracy. From its base in Addis Ababa, the Africa and West Asia (AWA) programme of International IDEA collaborates closely with both national actors and regional organizations and has a footprint in over 40 countries. Priorities include constitutionalism, inter-party dialogue, electoral integrity, natural resource governance, youth participation and women’s representation.


The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair


The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair


Nairobi, 19 June 2017 — The Board of AMI has elected Mr. Wale Aboderin as the new Chair of the organization. He will be taking over from the maiden chair, Mr. Trevor Ncube, Executive Vice-chairman of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, who has steered the organization since its inception in 2008. The organization thanks Mr. Ncube, and his early co-Chair, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, for the valuable support and guidance of AMI during its formative years.

Mr. Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman is the Chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper group headquartered in Lagos. PUNCH publishes three print and two digital newspapers, and runs four major print presses across Nigeria.

Mr. Aboderin trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. He was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. His tenure has witnessed groundbreaking changes in the editorial quality, management and fortunes of PUNCH, including a hugely successful redesign, the launch of several digital initiatives and the newspaper’s win of several local and international awards.

A popular sports enthusiast in Nigeria, Mr. Aboderin is the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. He is a former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

“I thankfully accept this role and I believe AMI should help African media bridge the communication gap between policymakers and the citizens to allow for a two-way feedback engagement,” Mr Aboderin said. “During my tenure I will champion the AMI cause everywhere and ensure that Africans stop being suspicious about homegrown initiatives and support this organization.”

Mr Eric Chinje, CEO of the African Media Initiative, stated: “With more than two decades of direct involvement in media, Mr Wale brings a wealth of experience to the organization. He will surely help AMI refocus its work around the four major pillars of activity around which a new strategy is being developed: strengthening media capacity (thematic specialization); content development and promotion; research; and performance incentives for media professionals.”

About AMI
The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector with a view to promoting democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

The Purpose of Media (4)

eric blog

By AMI CEO Eric Chinje

In a preceding segment of this series I discussed what I referred to as “the governance loop” in which media serves as the informational cord that binds government and the governed.  I posed the question as to how well media in Africa plays its role within the loop and whether, in doing so, it contributes to that ultimate goal of raising the quality of life on the continent?

I contended that some in the industry would argue that these questions were irrelevant to what is essentially a business – the news business – that should have no other determinants than the quality of content and audience size, the imperatives of survival in a highly competitive environment, and making a profit for investors.  There are obvious practical reasons for taking such a position but how does one not find common ground with those observers who believe that this is what accounts that “a race to the bottom” by media in Africa – one in which trash talk, celebrity gossip, political and social scandal, and sports results have become standard offerings on the media menu.

I believe the role of media in society must go beyond the justified but often mundane and the self-serving concerns of media owners and professionals.  Media in 21st century Africa is the single most important instrument for engendering the social and political transformations taking place on the continent.  It has, in the view of many, become the First Estate!  New technologies in this digital age have strengthened both the reach and power of media, forcing all the other levers of state power to defer to it in ways hitherto unimagined in the quest for control of society.

It is important to recognize its power and to act with responsibility and foresight.  There are important reasons why it must go beyond the very limited agenda of content production and delivery.  Media has a duty and self-serving reasons to work with the other arms of the state to ensure society’s survival and growth.

First of all, the media industry is more likely to thrive in a society that thrives than in one that does not.  Societies thrive when governments adopt and implement appropriate policies in critical sectors of national economies, and citizens are able to weigh in on the shaping of these policies.  Secondly, the single most important source of what goes into media content is very often the direct consequence of government action. Understanding the whys and wherefore of such action allows media to play its role from a perspective of knowledge.  That intermediation role, delivering information from government or reacting to the consequences of government action, and providing feedback from citizens, is core to what media is and does.

The prevailing school of thought within independent media in Africa is that the longer the distance from government the better the credibility of the media organization.  In the corrupted socio-political environment of most countries, this makes absolute sense. The question remains, however: can a media industry that is permanently in the dark as to what goes on within the corridors of political power successfully serve its purpose vis-à-vis society?  How does it intermediate when it sits only on one side of the social equation?


The purpose of media in a changing Africa commands media professionals to not only seek and gain access to where policies are made but also to understand why certain policy choices are made over others.  New technologies have increased the possibility of obtaining needed access to knowledge and, in the process, redefined the profile of who the journalist should be and what he or she should be doing.  It is in this regard that we will, in a next segment, look at who media managers should be looking to hire today and in what proportion.  What should be the mix of professionals in a modern newsroom: techies, journalists, business managers, good writers, sociologists, political scientists, financial analysts, and so on?  Which all begs another question as to whether traditional norms should still be in play in a non-traditional digital environment? Is change within the media an imperative?  Are today’s media leaders up to the game?  These will be examined in the next delivery in the “Purpose of Media” series.


Looking to journalists’ safety

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Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating a discussion on Journalists’ Safety Indicators.

Over the past year, the African Media Initiative has been examining the media environment in Kenya to assess the level of journalists’ safety against a set of specific indicators. The study, commissioned by Unesco, involved data collection from key media stakeholders such as media, state and political actors, civil society organizations and academia, the UN and other international organizations.


The indicators – Journalists’ Safety Indicators – are an initiative of Unesco and are designed as a tool to measure progress in efforts to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.


As Unesco says in its guidelines, Applying UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSIs) A Practical Guidebook to Assist Researchers (published on 11 February, 2015), “The purpose of the JSI indicators is to pinpoint significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. ” The indicators “especially serve as a basis against which changes can be systematically registered over time’’, the guidelines add.


The Guidebook goes on to explain that the JSIs cover “a variety of actions, including: monitoring safety issues (information collection), promoting norms on safety (which includes the publishing of information, amongst other steps), co-ordination with other actors, training and capacity-building programmes, as well as other activities”.


On February 23, Unesco convened a stakeholders’ validation workshop at the United Nations office at Gigiri in Nairobi. It brought together a cross-section of representative groups – Kenya Union of Journalists, Kenya Correspondents Association, Association of Freelance Journalists, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (K), Kenya Human Rights Commission, African Media Initiative, Twaweza Communications, Association of Bloggers, Article 19, Association of Parliamentary Journalists and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. State actors had also been invited but did not attend.


The lead researcher, Dr George Nyabuga, of the School of Journalism, University of Nairobi, presented the research findings with Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating the discussions. Feedback from the stakeholders will help refine the report in preparation for its launch on May 3, 2016, as part of activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day.


Musings of a budding journalist


By Mary Chumbow

Communications Intern

In a journalism ethics class last year, the lecturer posed a question the sat back and let us debate the answer for a while since, as she pointed out, she was sure it would not be an easy one to resolve.

“If teenagers were involved in a murder and you were assigned to cover the murder trial, would you see it fit to take photos of these children and post them as part of your story, thus exposing their identity, or would you use aliases with your story?” She asked.

The question was informed by a 1993 incident in the UK in which two 10-year-old boys on a murder charge had their photos splashed all over the media. What followed in class was a very heated debate as each student weighed in on the issue. Opinion was divided almost right in the middle. Some students felt it would be unethical to use aliases in the interest of the children and their families. Others argued that to do so would be unethical and would amount to protecting the juveniles with the attendant risk that they could carry on with their criminal behavior once released.

Needless to say, the debate ended with a divided class and that was exactly what the lecturer was hoping for, a stalemate, otherwise called, an ethical dilemma in journalism. But how do we overcome these dilemmas and still maintain our credibility as journalists?

Being credible is one thing but to prove credibility is another, and this is the point at which, I dare say, a major part of the African media is. I get the feeling that the African audience has lost confidence in its media and find international media more believable.

As a journalism student, who could be referred to as a baby taking her first steps in the industry, I feel a little bit entitled and always want to speak up for journalists when others are criticizing them. However, even I find that difficult at times am persuaded to agree, as accusatory as this may sound, with the public perception of journalists as integrity-deficient biased puppets of vested interests.

Nurturing a discipline of compliance with journalistic ethical standards is a continuing challenge for many in the profession and as as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta once stated, the country, and Africa, can simply not afford to accommodate unqualified journalists or those who do not observe the highest ethical standards of the profession. The President was speaking at Kenyatta International Convention Centre during a regional forum organized by the Media Council of Kenya as part of preparations for the World Press Freedom Day celebrations of May 3, 2014.

Undoubtedly,the African media has been in a perennial struggle with the ruling class over press freedom. Many journalists and media personalities have been heard to speak out against oppression of the press by presidents and/or governments. For a journalist in a country such as Cameroon, I would like to think that our first worry would be the lack of quality facilities or resources.

However, in countries like Kenya, the media has had to face opposition from not only the government but the public as well. Nowhere is this assault on media more vicious and sustained than on social media. In a sense, the media has itself to blame for this for publishing, for instance, one-sided stories loaded with innuendos with little evidence of verification of what comes through as outlandish claims and allegations, misplaced comments and outright bias.

Media credibility can only be renewed by the journalists themselves. Apart from qualifications acquired in journalism schools that allow us to practise the trade, journalists need to maintain a persona that is beyond reproach. Neutrality is key, and I feel that this is what is mostly lacking in the profession. The moment a reader or viewer notices bias or questions the timeliness of one’s story, a seed of doubt is planted and credibility is lost.

The Media Council of Kenya’s Deputy CEO and programmes manager, Victor Bwire, was spot on in an article published in January 18, 2016 issue of the Standard Digital Media, when he wrote: “Media regulation is not going to be done through external means by non-media organizations creating some laws and administrative codes, but by journalists themselves, through a conducive legal regime that accepts that journalism is a profession and not a craft.” (See article here).

By treating journalism as the profession that it is, journalists will be able to retain that respect and credibility that is so much needed. This is what will bring a change to the face and voice of the media.

As a budding journalist, I would like to believe that this is actually possible. However, as I was told once by those already in the profession (and as I am sure you, the reader, might be thinking), reality is quite different from class work. “Once you’re in the real world, you’ll soon come to realize that all is not as it seems,” I was told in an almost hectoring manner.

A time should come when journalism students will not have to defend those who preceded them in the field and on the way, possibly become disillusioned. We need the best African brains working in the media, to tell the African story, in the best way possible.

Is it at this point that I should say I have a dream? Well… yes, I have a dream. That said, anyone looking to hire a freshly minted journalist with great ideas on how to better tell the African story?



Telecommunications and Media Forum held in Johannesburg

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Best practice decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility and competitiveness

The International Institute of Communications held its final Telecommunications and Media Forum of  2015 in Johannesburg. The event was marked by a robust debate by speakers and delegates on what constitutes “best” practice policy and regulatory decision-making.

Over two days, senior executives representing regulators, industry, academia and civil society from Africa and beyond analyzed the opportunities and challenges of driving connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy.

Participants also reviewed the progress of digital migration and examined planning and implementation of broadband infrastructure, through National Broadband Plans. A review of the Ghana migration experience showed that funding was the biggest challenge to the project as the country’s initial funding arrangement of a concessionary loan from China did not materialize.

Ghana also struggled to fund a public education campaign on the migration, as well as supporting the economically vulnerable in the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting. Governments still have a lot to do in reviewing existing broadcasting legal frameworks in order to support a successful analogue switch-off.

The Telecommunications and Media Forum was supported by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), and featured keynote addresses from South African ministries. Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, set the scene on the opening day where the focus was on infrastructure, funding and supply side issues with affordable, sustainable access recognized as a key development goal.

Looking for free content for your online news outlet? You might want to check The Conversation Africa

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Great content can sometimes be hard to come by, and with few media organizations in Africa possessing the resources required to engage foreign correspondents, a new site might just be the what many need. The Conversation Africa is a news and analysis website which is a collaboration between African and international academics and their editors, who are journalists. It’s a Creative Commons website – so it’s free to republish any of the articles on the site – and it is a great source of expert opinion that is edited for the general reader in mind.

The Conversation Africa launched in May as part of the global group (with sister websites in the US, the UK, Australia and France) and are regularly picked up by publishers such as the Guardian, CNN and Time magazine, among others.

Take a look at the website – – and see which articles you might be interested in republishing. The site just asks that you follow its guidelines – – which includes attributing the academic, their university and The Conversation Africa and linking back to the original story. You can pick up a tracking code on individual articles, which is a small string of code that will go into the HTML coding on your website (those instructions are attached).

Some recent pieces which might be of interest are:

How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organisations

Why reaching and staying middle class is a lifetime challenge

Four common myths about exercise and weight loss

Why the UN isn’t winning its battle against sexual abuse by peacekeepers

How the rise in ethnic tensions at Kenya’s universities is hurting the academy
To pick up the tracking code:
1. Go to article page. For example

nl 1


2. Click on the Republish button, which is on the right side of the screen.



3. You will see a pop-up screen. Click the Advanced tab on the pop-up screen.

4. In the Advanced tab, you will find the small string of code in the top window. In the above example, it is this: <img alt=”The Conversation” height=”1″ src=”” width=”1″ />

5. Insert into HTML for story.