Thursday, 24 May 2012

The effects of globalization on the practice of journalism

The global phenomenon of people’s mobility is indeed, with us, thanks to advances in technology. The “global village” prophecy has become a reality- international schooling, business or trade development, immigration with related problems like those of refugees or displaced persons. And the trend is that people from foreign and alien cultures will be brought closer together at an even more accelerated rate.
Within the same cultural boundaries, we see more and more cases of minorities asserting themselves. All these cases have had profound effects on the field of communication.

Global journalism today accesses instantaneous multimedia communication networks, products and services. However, they also remove journalists’ monopoly on international news, forcing a re-evaluation of who creates, transmits and ultimately owns the news (Knight, Alan: 2001).
New forms of communication are reshaping the practice of a once narrow minded craft serving a local, regional or national public. Today, news media use communication technology to gather text, video and images from around the world, with unprecedented speed and varying degrees of editorial control. The same technology allows news media to disseminate this information to audiences scattered around the globe.

 Consequently, this global phenomenon raises three questions that affect the practice of journalism:
  1. Do the new globalised media technologies help or hinder “good journalism”?
  2. What happens to local perspective on international stories? And
  3. Does the resulting freedom of choice mean better news or just more of the same?

On the plus side, globalization of news helps demolish national censorship regimes which may have created state-constructed fantasies at odds with local realities. A free international market of ideas allows the participation of more sophisticated information vendors.

On the other hand, however, these same more sophisticated media handling techniques act to exclude journalists from directly witnessing the events they are supposed to report on.  Through globalization, journalists are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet as a source for their stories. This justifies the growing importance of the interactive internet as a source of information for journalists (reliance on secondary sources) rather than going direct to the source.

The pressures created by live global broadcasting force many to rely on accounts already prepared and sanctioned by the authorities.

And the Internet now allows news sources such as governments to distribute their own material directly to local news outlets. They bypass foreign correspondents and even international news wholesalers such as a news agencies.
Therefore, on the practice of journalism, the internet has encompassed a shift in who creates, distributes and ultimately owns the news. It increasingly shapes the ways of journalists communicate, construct their stories, publish their material and interact with their audiences.

News media now inhabit a radically pluralistic, global community where the impact of their reports can have far-reaching effects -- good or bad. News reports, via satellite or the Internet, reach people around the world and influence the actions of governments, militaries, humanitarian agencies and warring ethnic groups. A responsible global ethic is needed in a world where news media bring together a plurality of different religions, traditions and ethnic groups. 

One responsibility is to report issues and events in a way that reflects this global plurality of views; to practice a journalism that helps different groups understand each other better. Reports should be accurate, balanced and diverse, as judged from an international perspective. A biased and parochial journalism can wreak havoc in a tightly linked global world. Unless reported properly, biased reports may incite ethnic groups in a region to attack each other. A narrow-minded, patriotic news media can stampede populations into war. Moreover, journalism with a global perspective is needed to help citizens understand the daunting global problems of poverty, environmental degradation, technological inequalities and political instability.

Consequently, this prompts for the need for global ethics because of the following reasons:
(1) Practical: a non-global ethic is no longer able to adequately address the new problems that   face a global journalism, and
(2) Ethical: new global responsibilities come with global impact and reach.

Globalization may overwhelm local perspectives. Research shows that independent local sources are frequently ignored by foreign correspondents seeking to efficiently supply distant editors servicing home audiences. Even the best-equipped and trained foreign reporters may be hindered by lack of local knowledge or cultural insensitivity. This is because there is narrower news values powered on a cycle of misinformation. Meanwhile, governments and NGOs exploit these journalists’ weaknesses, avoiding reporters and delivering ‘authorised’ and unquestioned information to news audiences. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Africa a continent in transition and searching for a bold way forward.

 Photo/ Courtesy Derek Bacon -    

Africa needs a greater focus on entrepreneurship to help spur competitiveness, growth and job creation.
However, low exposure to entrepreneurship, combined with the lack of role models, makes the barriers to entry in African countries significantly higher than in developed countries.

This month many from the African Continent converge in Ethiopia for the World Economic Forum to address its transformation and seek solutions to challenges it faces.
Many have spoken about Africa’s growing potential, with many coming together to formulate ideas to sustain the fast economic development.

I may not be that good, in giving the best analysis to the way the African economy is growing; I will use what many have spoken about this tremendous growth.

Africa is poised for growth on the world stage —there are plenty of issues and obstacles that need to be tackled — resources, poverty, corruption …

 in December 2011 described Africa as: “The hopeful continent” After decades of slow growth, Africa has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia.
But at a dark time for the world economy, Africa’s progress is a reminder of the transformative promise of growth.

World Bank Lead Economist for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Eritrea      in his “Five reasons why Kenya and Africa shouldtake off” he says:

Second, Africa will be the new demographic powerhouse of the world. All continents will grow older, and many economies will have a shrinking working population. Africa on the other hand is still young (as a matter of fact, it is also growing older, but from a very low base), and the working age population is rapidly expanding.

This is concurred by    who said “Africa has the youngest population and the oldest leaders." 
Wolgang further says, “The expansion in education is paying off. Africans are better educated today than they were twenty years ago. Among the Millennium Development Goals, education is likely to be achieved."

Here, education is for all both the youth and women. Many who attended the Forum tweeted:

  There is a change in African mindset. The youth do want to engage and want involvement not just handouts.

The only way this can be achieved is formulating policies that must in a way reflect youth’s demands and interests.
Youth have to make sure they involve themselves in policy making platforms for their views to be heard and included. They have to follow up and make sure implementation takes place in accordance to the budget. If youths’ demands are given a considerable attention, they will in any way bring about desired socio-political transformation.

Self reliance is vital for positive transformation. Doing things in our style, wish, way and in our own abilities, without any external forces will direct us to better transformation.

   we need new mindsets, new models, new solutions for turning governance into growth" - & don't forget new skills.

How do we do this to make a turn around?

  Consistency is key in Africa; governments change policies all the time & ruin cycle of entrepreneurship. Aliko Dangote, Richest African.

In an African context particularly, this journey often begins with food security. It is an issue that requires a long-term approach that creates resilient communities, said, Bekele Geleta, the Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva.

Then, if agriculture is the way to go, how can we “Grow Africa: Transform African Agriculture"

 This can be made possible by:

There should be a focus on: improving co-operation between the public, private and voluntary sectors, and on strategies to identify strengths and weaknesses, and on fostering knowledge based economy.

Fostering opportunities for new businesses in emerging sectors; creating conditions that will help small innovative firms grow; revitalizing the local economy including considering the role for economic diversification; building community capacity; enhancing knowledge resources, and institutional, human and social resources; shifting to the knowledge economy; and, maximizing the benefits of the stimulus packages while reducing the downside risks.

Access to timely information by rural communities cannot only increase agricultural productivity but enhance social and economic development; many farmers in rural areas lack even the basic access to information.

Communities should be fully involved in this process and supported by local and national governments. This goal will be more attainable if these communities also have adequate access to inputs and markets. The key to improving food security in Africa lies with the move toward agricultural independence, with wide-spread and well-managed rainwater harvesting systems.  

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Information is not just a necessity for people- it is an essential part of good government. - Toby Mendel

Information is the oxygen of democracy. If people do not know what is happening in their society, if actions of those who rule them are hidden, then they cannot take a meaningful part in the affairs of that society. But information is not just a necessity for people- it is an essential part of good government. Bad government needs secrecy to survive. It allows inefficiency, wastefulness and corruption to thrive.

Information allows people to scrutinize the actions of a government and is the basis for proper informed debate of those actions. Information includes all records held by a public body, regardless of the form in which the information is stored (Toby Mendel (June 1999) ) Article 19. The Publics Right to Know. Principles on Freedom of information

Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

3 May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.

It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.

What they said:

Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise.
World Press Freedom Day is our opportunity to raise the flag in the fight to advance media freedom. We call on States, professional media and non-governmental organisations everywhere to join forces with the United Nations to promote online and offline freedom of expression in accordance with internationally accepted principles. This is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya at the East African Convention of Journalists at KICC in Nairobi-Kenya :
…attitudes are shaped by how the local media represents the continent to the world... I urge media to help sell our country to the world... there are positive stories to tell the world.
"This rapid growth of technology use is promising to transform societies in ways perhaps unthinkable only a few years ago. It has enabled the emergence of new ways to communicate, to share information and knowledge and for people to widen their sense of participation, identity and belonging."
"Convergence of press freedom and freedom of expression, through various traditional as well as new media, has given rise to an extraordinary level of media freedom. It has enabled citizens to bring about massive social and political transformations." 
World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.