Press Release

Our new workshop seeks to collaboratively establish guidelines to strengthen the role of social media and its positive uses within newsrooms and media organisations.

Where: Namibia (Location TBC)

When: 3-5 June 2019

The PMA is pleased to announce a new workshop, organised in partnership with UNESCO Harare Office, to develop social media guidelines for broadcasters in Southern Africa. The 3-day workshop, which will be held in Namibia, is open to media professionals from the following countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles and Mozambique.

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

The huge uptake of affordable smartphones across Africa and improved network access has resulted in more social media subscribers on the continent than ever before. Social media has become the primary source of news distributed by both mainstream media and emerging citizen journalists, and a space to showcase creativity on the continent. Likewise, through social media activists have also found a venue for domestic and international support, turning it into a place of political mobilisation and debate for both government and opposition supporting groups.

While social media is frequently celebrated for its positive impacts, there are growing concerns that it can be an uncomfortable and even dangerous space. These difficult-to-regulate platforms have at times been used to perpetuate hate speech and, in extreme cases, to incite violence. Government clampdowns on social media, especially across the African continent, have been at the forefront of debates concerning freedom of expression and have sometimes led to arrests and imprisonment of citizens.

However, social media remains a useful and powerful journalistic tool, opening new ways of gathering and disseminating information, finding sources, getting opinions from the public, and establishing a relationship with audiences.

Newsrooms and individual media professionals alike need to think carefully about their input on social media, always considering what to write and how to write it and to be as transparent as possible with the limit of their knowledge and with their audiences. It is also essential for broadcasters and media professionals, especially in times of emergencies, elections or other main events, to make sure that citizens are kept informed with accurate, relevant and verified information.

Over the 3 day workshop, participants will discuss and create detailed guidelines for best practices in social media use, including how best to deal with issues surrounding so-called “fake news”, hate speech and other dangerous expressions.  

The guidelines will be developed collaboratively, drawing on participants’ experience and regional examples, and focus on all aspects of social media coverage, including language, significance and context as well as new apps/technology and accuracy and balance.

The workshop will be followed by a webinar that will further elaborate on the guidelines. This will also be open to workshop participants’ colleagues. The completed guidelines will be made available by the PMA via their website.

Meet the trainers

Emily May Brown – Regional Trainer

Emily is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media Technology at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). Her areas of specialisation are media law, science journalism, media advertising strategies, gender in the media and media education.

Of particular importance to Emily is the need to assess the extent to which gender is mainstreamed in journalism curricula. In this context she authored the publication “A Gender Toolkit for Educators” in 2010.

Presently, Emily Brown serves as the Chair of Gender Links Southern Africa, a regional NGO with its Headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Namibia she represents NUST on the National Commission to UNESCO (NATCOM) and has membership in ORBICOM.  

Robert Freeman – International Trainer

Robert is an editorial development consultant for digital media businesses, specialising in long-term trends, media innovations, new product creation, and strategic planning.

A former reporter for Radio New Zealand and TVNZ, Robert joined the BBC in the late 90s as one of the founding journalists at its award-winning news website, and later become a producer for the technology TV show Click. He designed and implemented the first social media strategy for BBC Radio 1’s newsroom.

Previous roles include Head of Multimedia at the Press Association and when the Guardian moved into multimedia production Robert was appointed Editor, commissioning and managing video production for its website.

He is a senior trainer in social media and digital journalism at the BBC Academy and a regular lecturer in practical media production at Goldsmiths, University of London and Regents University.

The workshop will be implemented by the Public Media Alliance, UNESCO Harare Office and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

If you want to find out more about the workshop or would like to take part, please email


Header Image: Attendees developing social media guidelines at a previous PMA workshop in the Caribbean. Image: Shobha Myers