Reporting Community: Reinventing Local News

8 09 2009

Currently in Grahamstown, South Africa attending/ participating on the 13th Highway Africa conference and the 4th Digital citizen Indaba (DCI 4.0). Many new tools, books, ideas and issues arising from the many journalists participating from all over the world.

Some of the questions that have come up following this morning’s discussion is “to what extent does local news re-invent itself?”.

In Ghana a lot of local extensions provide news in local languages. The problem is, this news comes in form of proverbs! The media council in the country held a meeting about this issue recently a participant from Ghana says. The station and media managers justify it as a mode of communication he adds. “Proverbs have saved lives in Zimbabwe, many journalists and writers have been beaten up because of uncensored news”, says a Zimbabwean writer/delegate.

But what is the difference between community media and local media anyway?

“Everybody’s property is nobody’s property” says a participant from Lagos Nigeria.

Now is it about the content or the property? Many communities cant afford the equipment required to start up a community radio or local newspaper print. In a country like Uganda for example, many community radios have been set up through grants and donations. This had made it easy for the communities to communicate and share information. Now once the radio or newspaper is in place, the community then owns and manages the content. This makes the media community owned on a multi-stakeholder basic. But how do you draw a line between community ownership and community operation? – Helps to determine the content that comes through to the community.

Then how can these small community news papers influence change in regard to national policies etc?

How do we cover the minority with in the minority?

Adam Clayton Powell III (author) has just launched his book called “Reinventing Local News”.

In another session the discussion is centered on Reporting Democracy: Media and elections in Africa.

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