The future of journalism and media in Africa
Our media landscape is shifting dramatically. We’ve seen magazines suddenly close, new online forms of media pressing us urgently for donations and webinars arise as the new form of public debate. Talkshows are held from home with a single presenter, no guests in person, no music, no applause. Science journalism has been given a boost, epidemiologists are the news rock stars while conspiracy theories and fake news abound. Governments debate how to get Facebook and Google to pay for the news they disseminate for free, and Twitter is as vicious and opinionated as always. Newspapers keep on closing while some, having stuck to paywalls, are finding that this strategy is paying off. The giants of journalism (The Guardian, the New York Times, the BBC) are read and watched all over the world as they make their Coronavirus coverage free. Four media experts give us their views and take questions on how to navigate this rocky terrain.
Francis MdlongwaDirector Highway Africa
Francis heads Rhodes University’s Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership. He joined the SPI – Africa’s only university-level institute which educates and trains graduates and editors in media leadership and management – in 2004.
Mdlongwa distinguished himself as an international desk editor, bureau chief and senior roving international correspondent of Reuters, the world’s leading news and information agency, which employed him in several world capitals, including London, Nairobi and Harare, in the 1980s and 1990s.
He broke the story of the 1991 overthrow of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and covered Africa’s civil wars and peace in diverse countries stretching from Sudan and Ethiopia in the North to Angola and Lesotho in the South. He reported on landmark elections in the 1990s which ushered in multi-party democracy in countries such as South Africa, Malawi and Kenya.
Mdlongwa has headed several African media. He has been Group Editor-in-Chief of Associated Newspapers, publishers of Zimbabwe’s Daily News, which was banned by the government in 2003; he was Editor-in-Chief of the Financial Gazette, an authoritative financial newspaper based in Harare, for nearly a decade; and he was head of news and current affairs at Channel Africa, the external news service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
He is a media consultant who has run journalism and media management training programmes in the former Eastern Bloc nations of Serbia and Montenegro, and in African countries such as Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe, working on behalf of the International Research & Exchanges Board based in Washington DC, and the Reuters Foundation.
For four years since 2004, he taught journalism courses such as news and features writing; news analysis and editorial and opinion pieces; and economics, business and financial reporting in Addis Ababa University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Between 2009 and 2010, he led a team of international academics which designed and established the first media management postgraduate course in the Middle East. Based at Cairo University – Egypt’s oldest university – the course was taught by several international academics, including Mdlongwa. He holds an MBA in Global Management from Durham University in the United Kingdom.
Julie MasigaPeace and Security Editor The Conversation Africa
Julie Masiga is an advocate of Kenya’s high court, a journalist, and human rights proponent with a specific interest in women, leadership and governance. She has vast writing and editing experience and has worked for newspapers, magazines, and digital news outlets. Her experience includes political punditry and moderation on live television. She also writes a weekly opinion column for a national newspaper. In her current position, she curates and edits peace and security articles for The Conversation Africa, a digital news website written by researchers for a non-academic audience.
Professor Anthea GarmanHead of the School of Journalism and Media Studies
Professor Anthea Garman is Acting Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies. She chairs the Highway Africa steering committee and leads the NRF-funded project Licence to Talk which investigates the mediated South African public sphere. She teaches journalism writing, multimedia storytelling and academic writing.
Roukaya KasenallyCEO,African Media Initiative
Roukaya Kasenally is the CEO of the African Media Initiative (AMI). She held prior positions at AMI as the Director of Programmes and Knowledge Management (2012–2014) and Senior Advisor (2015-2017). Kasenally is also a democracy scholar and an Associate Professor in Media and Political Systems at the University of Mauritius.
She has wide experience working in Africa as a consultant for a number of International and Pan African institutions on media and democratic governance. She is currently the Chair of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and a board member of the West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR).
Kasenally has authored/co-authored a number of publications on media and democratic systems. Kasenally has been a Regan Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC (2011-2012) and a Draper Hills Democracy Fellow at Stanford University (2015). She holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield and is fluent in English and French.
Sandra GordonDirector, Stone Soup Group
Sandra Gordon is an entrepreneur steeped in media and marketing. She has founded, developed and managed publishing businesses and subsequently sold them onto listed media groups. During her career in media she has launched over 25 magazines and online publications. In 2002 she launched Wag the Dog, publisher of The Media and The Media Online, and created and developed two significant events – Women in The Media and The MOST Awards for media agencies and owners. Wag the Dog was sold to Tiso Blackstar (now Arena) in July 2019. She has served as a judge of magazine, newspaper and journalism awards and is acknowledged as an influencer in the media space.
Styli CharalambousPublisher & CEO, Daily Maverick
Following his qualification as a Chartered Accountant, Styli worked in London in various projects teams at investment banks before returning to South Africa in 2006. He entered the world of media in 2009 when he co-founded Daily Maverick with Branko Bkric. As publisher and CEO, Styli has helped shape the growth of the organisation from a startup to a medium-sized publisher that now employs 80 people and enjoys an influential role in the media and political landscape of South Africa. Along with overseeing the commercial efforts of the business, Styli is intimately involved in the product and technology areas of Daily Maverick as well as having designed its membership programme.