Saturday, March 18, 2017

Workshop: African PJ must offer counternarratives
(Kisumu, Kenya)—The importance of African approaches to peace journalism dominated the agenda of day two of a regional peace journalism workshop in Kisumu.

Dr. Fredrick Ogenga
This African-centered approach is called hybrid peace journalism by Dr. Fredrick Ogenga, founding director of the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace, and Security (CMDPS) at Rongo University in Kenya. This approach takes elements of Western journalism and views them through an African lens. Dr. Ogenga’s hybrid PJ approach features an emphasis on development and on offering counternarratives to traditional Western-style reporting that portrays Africa only in a negative light.

At Rongo University, hybrid PJ is manifested through a master’s program in Media, Democracy, Peace, and Security. The university also has a hybrid PJ club, made up of peacebuilding students. Also, Rongo U. will launch soon a campus/community radio station dedicated to peacebuilding. “We’re giving students an opportunity to tell their own narratives,” Ogenga said.

Other presenters on day two included Dr. Jacinta Mwende 
of the University of Nairobi, who discussed media, human rights, and social justice. She articulated several suggestions for reporting human rights, including: 1. No ‘us vs. them’; 2. No worthy or unworthy victims; 3. Report humanely during conflicts; 4. Explore all sides.
Dr. Jacinta Mwende

Professor John Oluoch of Rongo University then discussed how local (vernacular) language radio stations can enhance peace in Kenya. He suggests that media operate objectively, and embrace a model that stresses social responsibility.

The workshop, sponsored by Rongo University CMPDS, The Social Science Research Council, The African Peacebuilding Network, and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University,  concluded with a presentation by Victor Bwire of the Media Council of Kenya. He led a spirited discussion about media ethics and responsibilities. He said ethics, objectivity, and sound journalistic practice are needed if Kenyan journalists are to rebuild trust with the public. I closed the proceedings with a discussion of next steps, including uniting to form a PJ press club in East Africa.

For me, this workshop was a much-needed reminder that local contexts are vital if peace journalism is to take root. I hope this is the first of many such local-context regional workshops in East Africa and elsewhere.

--For more on the first day of the workshop, see the blog post below.--SY

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