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What’s Wrong with African Journalism?

Something, apparently, since the AFP Foundation is launching a FIFA-backed “training program” for several hundred African football reporters and photographers in advance of the World Cup. The program involves eight cities, where journalists from all 53 African countries will convene for two one-week courses in Arabic, French, English, or Portuguese. AFP chief executive Pierre Louette has said that he hopes the training courses will not only “enhance” the journalists’ “skill,” but also “create lasting friendships.”

I have no idea whether the program will be useful or not, but is there maybe something a little condescending about this presentation? I mean, if African journalism is so behindhand, how is the AFP going to fix it in just two weeks? On the other hand, if the journalists are already competent and this is just the career development-slash-networking opportunity it sounds like, why does the AFP have to go out of its way to emphasize its tutelary role and portray the journalists as desperately in need of help? (“We aspire to give journalists skills which they can pass on to their colleagues and to future generations,” the foundation director said.)

I’m no expert on African journalism, but from what I’ve read to keep up with World Cup news, most of it is terrible, some of it is decent, and a small percentage of it is really, really good. So if that’s the description of a media culture in need of fixing, what can we do to persuade the AFP to do England and America next?

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What’s Wrong with African Journalism?

by Brian Phillips · May 15, 2009

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