​WAN-IFRA Media,Society Programme Comes to South Africa

 WAN-IFRA Media,Society Programme Comes to South Africa

WAN-IFRA’s Strengthening Media and Society programme arrived at Rhodes University School of Journalism in Grahamstown, South Africa to deliver three days of workshop training to media professionals from 25 media companies across Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Discussing digital strategies, editorial leadership and media freedom challenges, participants will engage in a programme of activities as part of WAN-IFRA’s global project to strengthen the role of media in the communities they serve.

Beginning the three-day programme Kim Svendsen, Director of the  Stibo Accelerator [http://www.stiboaccelerator.com/] in Denmark and Stephen Fozard, head of WAN-IFRA’s  Global Alliance for Media Innovation [http://www.wan-ifra.org/node/124224/] (GAMI), showcased different approaches for media to engage with the tech and academic sectors to promote collaboration.

 WAN-IFRA's Strengthening Media and Society Programme Comes to South Africa

WAN-IFRA’s Strengthening Media and Society Programme Comes to South Africa

18 women media professionals participated in the programme’s Women Editorial Leadership training stream, with Toyosi Ogunseye, Editor of  Sunday Punch [http://punchng.com/] in Nigeria facilitating sessions on techniques for building and managing investigative journalism teams, working on large-scale investigative stories, and doing “the very best job you can” as a mechanism to dispel prejudices encountered by women in senior positions in the newsroom.

Paula Fray, founder of  Fray Intermedia [http://www.frayintermedia.com], followed this with a day of practical sessions on leadership and management for women in changing media environments, with participants analysing their own organisational cultures and looking at how best to coach their teams.

Catherine Guicheru, Country Lead at  Code for Kenya [https://codeforkenya.org/] – an open-data initiative to promote data journalism and civic innovation as a means to strengthen storytelling and audience engagement – led seminars on data journalism that looked at how to strenghten storytelling techniques and integrate a culture of data more successfully in the newsroom.

Lisa MacLeod, Head of Digital at the  Times Media Group [http://www.timesmedia.co.za/businesses/media/] in South Africa led a day of digital strategies training that looked at platform publishing and the social media environment, new tools and products to enhance daily operations across digital platforms.

Claus Hovge Andersen, COO at  Nordjyske Medier [http://nordjyske.dk/nyheder] in Denmark, followed with a full day dedicated to analysing digital transfomations in media companies, focusing on aspects of paid content and digital revenues as means for sustaining long-term digital operations.

Capitalising on the precense of inspirational women media leaders, Paula Fray moderated a plenary session entitled ‘Women Leading Media – Challenges and Triumphs’ that featured Lisa MacLeod, Catherine Guicheru, Toyosi Ogunseye and Cherilyn Ireton, Executive Director of WAN-IFRA’s  World Editors Forum [http://www.wan-ifra.org/microsites/world-editors-forum]. The discussion explored the different experiences of the five women as they have advanced in their careers, examining opportunities – or the lack thereof – for women to lead in media markets across Africa. The session was filmed by Rhodes Journalism students. Watch the video of the session  here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYf5jzIFbyk&feature=youtu.be].

The Strengthening Media and Society programme’s Media Freedom Committee country representatives from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda led discussions on the third day of the programme to identify media freedom challenges in each country and propose solutions for their resolution. Action plans and roadmaps to build solidarity between participating media were developed, and initiatives to better reach and engage the communities in which the media operate were proposed. Under the directives of the Committee, WAN-IFRA will support these plans over the coming months to assist advocacy at national and regional levels, aiming to support local media in their efforts to secure greater freedoms.

After the three-day Strengthening Media and Society programme, participants then had the opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary edition of  Highway Africa [http://highwayafrica.ru.ac.za/], the continent’s leading journalism conference held annually at  Rhodes University [https://www.ru.ac.za/].

The Strengthening Media and Society programme, funded through a two-year engagement between WAN-IFRA and the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark [http://um.dk/en], seeks to build the internal capacity of media in developing countries and fragile states by strengthening digital actors, creating linkages between media, and empowering women media leaders. Addressing governance, accountability, professional safety, economic prosperity, poverty reduction and human rights issues, the Strengthening Media and Society programme also aims to tackle systemic threats to media freedoms by strengthening legal protections and encouraging knowledge exchange, promoting information sharing and solidarity activities between media, and building practical coalitions between media, civil society and decision-makers at the highest levels.

The event in Grahamstown was the fourth in a series of regional workshops that have welcomed 160 media professionals from more than 60 media organisations. The programme launched in Amman (Jordan) and continued with workshops in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Cartagena, (Colombia), before developing into a comprehensive series of webinars and online support programmes; individualised coaching, mentoring and one-on-one professional development sessions; twinning opportunities and media exchanges; advocacy events and innovation grants.

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