PMA and UNESCO’s latest workshop to develop social media guidelines for broadcasters in Southern Africa kicked off today.

24 Journalists and media practitioners from news outlets in Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, the Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are attending the two-day workshop in Windhoek.

The workshop’s aim is to strengthen the role of social media in Southern Africa and its positive use within newsrooms and media organisations.

Alongside the skills shared by trainers Emily May Brown (University of Namibia ) and Robert Freeman (BBC & Regents University), the participants will reflect on their personal and professional experiences of social media to produce a regionally relevant set of guidelines.


The rapid growth in access to the internet – particularly via smart phones – across Southern Africa has resulted in more social media subscribers on the continent than ever before, making it a primary outlet for the distribution of news by mainstream media and emerging citizen journalists. Likewise, activists have also found a venue in social media for domestic and international support, turning it into a place of political mobilisation and debate for both government and opposition supporting groups.

But as with any new medium to gather and disseminate information, its positive use is often complimented by negatives; particularly the spread of hate speech, misinformation and disinformation. And this, according to UNESCO, is why journalists need “original, critical and well-researched journalism, guided by high professional, ethical standards and a quality media education” – especially if they are to follow their audiences onto digital platforms.

 


Speaking on Monday at the launch of the workshop, Head of Office & UNESCO Representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, explained that when properly trained, journalists have a real opportunity to “to use social media to interact with publics, and show accountability and explain professional standards”.

He continued: “To survive and thrive, established media companies need to embrace social media platforms as an intrinsic part of their daily editorial, production and commissioning processes”.

“This implies formulating together new guidelines and standards that help quality and professional journalism especially when using social media.”

The workshop was also opened by Alna Magdalena Dall, a founding member of Namibia’s Coalition against Gender-Based Violence, and Stanley Similo, Director General of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

A webinar will take place following the workshop to further develop the guidelines, which will be open to participant’s colleagues. The completed guidelines will available via the Public Media Alliance website.


In partnership with UNESCO

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