Whose Interest Does the Press Serve in Africa?
Venue: Pan Afric Hotel
Date: March 13, 2009
Time: 4.00 – 6.30pm
When the Iranian President landed in Nairobi for an official state visit to Kenya, media cameras captured a scuffle between Kenyan security officials and an Iranian journalist. The historical aspect of the Iranian President landing in Kenya less than 48 hours after the President of Turkey had left, and less than four days after the Chinese President had been to East Africa got swamped by the media's framing of the event.
It is a framing thing isn't it? What is captured by the camera lenses prevents YOU AND ME from accessing the actual news... (Debate!) What about constraints facing media houses such as government control; advertisement revenue pegged on selective reporting and insecurity for individual journalists? What about the popular refrain "I was misquoted...!"
We live in interesting times. Never before has the debate on how best to apply our knowledge in solving our problems been so engaging and urgent. The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) has been at the centre of this debate for more than eight years now.
Founded in 2001, IREN has organized over 72 forums and hosted over 4,500 delegates from various countries and backgrounds. These have included high school and university students, farmers, civil society leaders, journalists, policy makers and business leaders--all of whom have met to discuss issues focused on Africa's economic development.
|Who is the force behind news?|
As part of our strategy to further this discussion, IREN is honored to launch its incisive "The Ultimate Question" debate series. We are inviting you to participate in discussing the first question in our series: Whose Interest Does the Press Serve in Africa? As reflected below, a knowledgeable and respectable international panel has been selected for this inaugural debate.
1. Karen Rothmyer, Fellow Nation Institute (New York).
Karen Rothmyer has worked for US news organizations ranging from The Wall Street Journal to The Nation, the largest-circulation American political weekly, where she was managing editor for nine years. A one-time Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, she returned to East Africa in 2007 as a Knight International Journalism fellow. She currently teaches business journalism at the University of Nairobi and is a consulting editor for the Nairobi Star. She is also a member of the steering committee of the Tanzania Media Fund.
2. Chaacha Mwita, Media Focus on Africa Foundation, Kenya.
Mr. Mwita is a specialist in print journalism, media training and public policy analysis. In December 2008, he completed a media and democracy fellowship at Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Mr. Mwita is currently the Training Director, Media Focus on Africa Foundation (MFAF), a Communication for Development organization based in Nairobi-Kenya.
Before joining MFAF, he was the Group Managing Editor of the Standard Group Limited, the second largest media house in East and Central Africa. He has extensive experience in media management in Kenya and abroad having worked in various capacities for a number of media organizations including the Nation Media Group (the largest media house in East and Central Africa), Mwananchi Communications (Tanzania), Siemens AG (Switzerland) and East African Educational Publishers (Kenya).
Mr. Mwita has also taught communication studies at Strathmore University, Kenya. He holds a Bachelor of Education degree, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication (both from the University of Nairobi) and an MBA from the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), among other academic qualifications. Passionate about Africa and journalism, Mr. Mwita is a published author.
3. Onyango Oketch, http://www.oketch.com/ Kenya.
Onyango Oketch is a visual artist and a flaneur in the footsteps of Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin and Amos Tutuola. His work explores conversation in wastelands created by processes that naturalize mythologies, frame perception and manufacture of image. He is driven by memory, oral stories and histories.
Onyango Oketch has done research and written on child soldiers and media literacy. He was a regular contributing writer for Fnews--a magazine of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and other publications. He has also been guest speaker on topical issues in different forums such as Africa Committee of Jubilee Chicago--Africa 2000 Forum, Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Kemetic Institute of North Eastern Illinois University, The Catholic Theological Union at Hyde Park in Chicago, The Center of African Studies - Northwestern University, and the 6th Africa Resource Bank Meeting.
In 2001 Onyango Oketch won the Gold Circle Award from The Columbia Scholastic Press Association of Columbia University, New York.
4. Dr. George Lugalambi, Makerere University Uganda.
Dr. George Lugalambi is head of the Mass Communication Department at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; previously he taught media studies at Penn State University's College of Communications. Dr. Lugalambi's research interests include political communication, deliberative democracy, communication policy, and journalism and media training. His published scholarly works have dealt with the subjects of media freedom in Africa, peace and conflict journalism, and the growth of media and information communication technologies in Uganda.
He began his career as a freelance reporter in 1990 eventually becoming the editor and columnist of The Crusader newspaper until 1999. Dr. Lugalambi then became the founding editor of the Uganda Journalism Review and has also done communication and consulting work with UNICEF, the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the Nile Basin Initiative, the AIDS Support Organization, AIDS/HIV Integrated District Model and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. A William J. Fulbright and Commonwealth alumnus, Dr. Lugalambi holds a B.A. from Makerere University, Uganda; M.Phil. in mass communication from Leicester University, United Kingdom; and a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University, USA.
5. Ernesto Yeboah, Journalist, Ghana.
Ernesto Yeboah is a Youth Activist with wide interest in media and development related issues. His writings date back to his involvement in student activism at the University of Ghana where he grew to become a prolific writer and ardent advocate for equality and justice. He is a columnist with some of Ghana's most popular websites such Ghana web and print outlets like the Daily Graphic and the Chronicle. His recent writings include; Zimbabwe Crisis: What Should African Journalists Do? He has a book, 'The Students' Manifesto' to his name which is yet to be published.
He has been a regular facilitator for reputable organizations such as Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in forums dubbed "Political Café". He is currently with the National Media Commission, a statutory body set up to monitor media reportage in keeping with high journalistic standards.
1. Kwamchetsi Makokha, Form & Content Consultancy, Nairobi
Kwamchetsi Makokha is a progressive writer, journalist and communications consultant. He is the founder of Form and Content Consultancy, and a member of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) steering group.
2. James Shikwati, Inter Region Economic Network, Kenya.
James Shikwati is a self taught Development Economist, Founder and Director of the Inter Region Economic Network http://www.irenkenya.com/ a think tank and consultancy firm that focuses on ideas and strategies geared towards economic development in Africa. He is also the founder and owner The African Executive http://www.africanexecutive.com --a weekly opinion and business magazine that provides a forum for visionary Africans to promote a sound business environment on the continent. James is also the Country Director of SIFE Kenya http://www.sife.org/ --an organization that promotes business thinking among university undergraduates.
Mr. Shikwati is also a writer and a commentator on public policy with a special interest in development, environment, trade and agriculture related issues. He was named among top 100 most influential Kenyans in a study that was conducted by The East African Standard Group in 2007. He was named among the 245 Young Global Leaders of 2008 http://www.younggloballeaders.org/ by the Forum of Young Global Leaders, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum.
Entry Fee: Ksh 3,500 only ($50)
To reserve seat call: Anne Mugoya +254202731497 email firstname.lastname@example.org
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