Our bid for an Innovate Africa project fund

The Public Media Alliance (PMA) has applied for an Innovate Africa project fund to develop an innovative citizen journalism project for youth groups across Namibia with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Ignite!.

NBC has considerable audience reach and a global reputation for its youth programming, with a growing digital and online presence. Yet, even though the broadcaster has identified the potential for multiplatform audience engagement, it has not been able to fully embrace the prospects of citizen journalism.

We recently held an “Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age” workshop in Jamaica. Image: PMA

As the media fragments, many public broadcasters are struggling to adapt to the contemporary digital media landscape – at least, not at the same pace as their audiences. Many broadcasters see adaptation and training as extremely costly, despite the benefits it could bring in terms of their ability to provide a representative public service, especially during a national crisis or emergency.

The broad aim of our proposal is to enhance the NBC’s public remit by actively engaging and including citizens in the production of multiplatform news and content, taking inspiration from the excellent PeoPo platform developed by Public Television Service (PTS) Taiwan. With a particular focus on high school groups, the project will establish a nationwide web portal where aspiring journalists can upload their content and develop their digital media literacy skills, in turn stimulating an appetite for citizen journalism among young people.

With the assistance of resident experts, initial reports will be based on the non-contentious theme of science, of which there is a paucity of original coverage throughout the region. The experts will work with students in a similar style to Ignite!’s Lab_13 project, which works with young people to reveal, develop and exercise their capacity for creativity and creative thinking around STEM subjects [Science, technology, engineering and mathematics]. The portal will allow digital feedback from other schools, young people and from the Namibian science community.

Participants at the end of our “Mainstreaming Gender in the Media” project in New Delhi, 2015.

Much like PTS and PeoPo, it is hoped that NBC will be able to use the content within its expanding multiplatform output as an inexpensive way of representing local stories and viewpoints from across the country. In the long term, a fully realised portal will stimulate future digital citizen journalism projects and offer a platform through which broader subjects can be reported on by the public as well as allowing NBC to deepen their understanding of audience engagement via the project analytics.

In the digital age, public broadcasters have the opportunity to expand their democratic contribution and empower the public sphere by engaging citizens to be actively involved in the production of content.

We need your support

Part of our bid is to generate discussion about our project via Twitter and Facebook. We welcome your feedback and suggestions, whether it’s a retweet, a share, or a comment.

Innovate Africa logoIgnite! logo

Header Image: Participants at a previous PMA workshop in Tanzania. Credits: Jas Chandler/PMA