Sunday, 8 June 2008

Parachute training

So, The Economist reckons journalism in poor countries is booming (this report is a couple of months old, but I came across it again today and thought it was worth another look). The growth in private media in the developing world is apparently spurred on by the demise of state-owned media in former Soviet-block countries, but also by the growth of private media and new technologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The piece is not very critical but does touch upon the question of donors and governments trying to influence training content. The last line of the report also seems to offer a hint of irony at the Western journalism educators for whom introducing journalists in developing countries to the practices of Western journalism has become a luctrative venture. But the central question that is left needing further exploring, is what happens to journalistic frameworks - from ethical values to professional practices - when Western trainers meet journalists working in local realities that often differ vastly from the ones they come from and upon which their training manuals are based. As Francis Nyamnjoh has argued in his book Africa's Media, the dominant liberal democratic framework of Western journalism does not always fit African contexts very well, and this could go for other developing countries as well. For journalism training to be successful in the long run - for the 'boom' that the Economist reports on to be sustainable - it is therefore vital that training programmes are developed with the participation of local journalists. Parachute training is not the way to go.


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