OSISA Journalism Summer School
Helping media to help democracy
The mass media is a key pillar of any democratic society but, over recent years, a growing list of challenges has undermined the ability of journalists and media houses in southern Africa to fulfil their critical role – so the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is launching an annual Journalism Summer School to strengthen the profession and enhance democracy in the region.
Along with concerns about government pressure, self-censorship, funding shortages and a lack of professionalism, there have long been serious doubts about the quantity – and quality – of journalism training in the region.
And training is vital. Since only well trained journalists will be able to make sense of the emerging trends and tendencies in our increasingly complex and globalised society – and ensure that journalistic power is exercised responsibly, and that journalism is always in tune with changing circumstances.
Similarly, media managers operate in an ever-changing environment and need training to enable them to manage change and uncertainty to ensure that their institutions remain viable and sustainable – and yet most of the few courses in southern Africa leave out media managers.
The OSISA Journalism Summer School (JSS), which is affiliated with UNESCO, was created to address these issues. Targeted at mid-career journalists and media managers in the region, the three-week JSS will offer cutting edge courses on a range of topics from ethics to investigative reporting to gender in the newsroom.
The inaugural JSS will bring together around 25 journalists and 10 media managers from 10 southern African countries – Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It will be hosted by the Polytechnic of Namibia and will run from the 5th-23rd November 2012.
Applications have closed for 2012.
The JSS seeks to:
- Strengthen the quality of journalism and contribute toward a more professional media by training journalists and media managers on key thematic areas;
- Deepen particpants' understanding of journalism theory and practice to enable them to critically reflect on the role and implications of their work;
- Promote experiential learning when journalists are placed on attachment during the training;
- Improve the quality of media management to ensure the viability and sustainability of media organisations; and
- Promote collaboration and joint research among journalism training institutions across the region.
The journalists will attend the full three weeks, while managers will only come in during the final week for specific media management courses. JSS participants should be able to demonstrate:
- Improved knowledge of particular issues examined/taught in each module;
- Applied competence in journalism research, including skills in investigative reporting;
- Greater ability to write complex, multi-sourced stories;
- Better understanding of journalism ethics;
- Improved gender awareness and ability to write stories with gender sensitivity;
- Critical analysis of news and the newsgathering process; and
- Better understanding of the commercial environment in which the media operates.
The JSS courses will be run by highly experienced journalism educators from across the region and abroad as well as a range of guest lecturers from Namibia. Lectures, group discussions and practical assignments will be key teaching methods. Journalists will be placed on attachment in media houses in the host country for a limited number of days during the course.
This initiative follows a Journalism Training Stakeholders Meeting on 22 October 2011 in Johannesburg, when editors and journalism educators from across the region endorsed the idea of a Summer School.
Future courses will rotate around other training institutions in the region.