By Dr Sandra Roberts
Journalism and media education is facing a number of challenges, one is that of creating a broad understanding of the media ecosystem, which needs to be underpinned by solid policy.
This year, during the virtual Future of Journalism Education in Southern Africa conference, the Namibian Media Trust (NMT) is delighted to launch the ‘Teaching Media Policy in Africa: A handbook for media educators’ to help them address this gap.
The launch will take place on 16 November, 2021 at 09h00 CAT.
“The handbook is the culmination of five years of work by top African media policy experts, who helped develop and deliver a massive open online course hosted on edX,” said Zoe Titus, Director at NMT.
The handbook, as well as the course that inspired it, is in honour of Jeanette Minnie, a media activist who helped shape media policy in southern Africa and died in 2016.
“The environment needed for journalism to ‘Tell the Truth and Restore Trust’, the theme for this year’s conference, does not organically arise independent of civil society action to consciously shape legislation,” according to Titus. “As journalism faces some of the greatest challenges ever, its credibility is central to its survival.”
This handbook, developed in partnership with the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and fraycollege systematically takes educators through the process of media policy creation.
“Legislation enacted nationally in various contexts can impact media freedom and freedom of expression. Activists, and anyone interested in the sustainability of media, need to understand the international agreements that impact these crucial pillars of democracy to defend the sector and truth as a whole,” said Dr Sandra Roberts, academic head of fraycollege.
“While some of the principles and practice of media policy are covered in journalism qualifications to different degrees (normally under a media law module), the full breadth of these policies in the international context, and how freedoms can be curtailed, is seldom covered. This handbook provides a holistic overview with associated case studies and examples from African contexts,” she added
“Educators can join the vice chancellor of the University of Pretoria and noted media scholar, Tawana Kupe as we launch this handbook. I cannot recommend attendance enough,” said Titus.