Chairs

South Africa

South Africa, Grahamstown

UNESCO Chair in Media & Democracy
Tel: (046) 603 7156
Fax: (046) 603 7101
Web site: http://www.ru.ac.za/jms/projectsv/sabunescochair/2009plans

Herman Wasserman
Rhodes University
E-mail: h.wasserman@ru.ac.za

 

2008 HIGHLIGHTS & 2009 PLANS

A. Plans for 2009 include:

1. Further enhancing the public profile of the Chair through scholarly and professional participation at national, regional and international conferences.

2. Scaling up research into the influence of China’s ‘soft power’ on African media and journalism, and possibly linking it up with the work of the Confucius Institute recently set up here at Rhodes University and/or Stellenbosch University. This is a relatively new research area and could potentially result in some groundbreaking analysis.

3. Hosting a high-level colloquium on African journalism education, as part of our university’s preparation to host the 2nd World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC).

Download the WJEC Africa-regional colloquium introductory speech by Fackson Banda

B. Key highlights of my 2008 work, measured in terms of teaching, research and professional engagement, 2008 included the following:

1. I was professionally recognised as Winner of the 2008 MISA Press Freedom Award in October.

2. I hosted a well-attended academic seminar alongside the Highway Africa Conference in September.

3. I was consulted by South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) to rate senior professors in the field of communication, journalism and media studies by evaluating their research outputs.

4. I was consulted by Canada’s York University’s Tenure and Promotion File Committee to assess the scholarly work of an academic applying for tenure and promotion. He has also been consulted by Makerere University’s Appointments Board to assess the scholarship of an academic applying for promotion.

5. I published several scholarly works in peer-reviewed books and accredited journals, including ‘African Political Thought as an Epistemic Framework for Understanding African Media’ in Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies 29(1) and ‘Negotiating Journalism Ethics in Zambia: Towards a ‘Glocal’ Ethics’ in Media Ethics Beyond Borders: a Global Perspective edited by SJA Ward and H Wasserman.

6. I presented scholarly and professional papers at international conferences as follows:

§ In January, I presented a paper on "Media and Good Governance" at the General Conference of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) in Nassau, the Bahamas. The paper argued for an "open" journalism that embraced civic participation and engagement, challenging "conventional" journalists to rethink their over-professionalised, exclusivist approach to the practice of journalism.

§ In May, I was invited by UNESCO to attend UNESCO celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Maputo, Mozambique, and present a paper on the African Media Initiative (AMI). The World Press Freedom Day falls on May 3. I led the setting out and public articulation of the comprehensive framework for media assistance that AMI is based upon. AMI is being coordinated by the BBC World Service Trust.

§ In June, I was invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Seattle, USA, to provide an analysis of key trends in media development in Africa and how the foundation could make a strategic contribution towards media development. As a result of my participation in this workshop, the Gates Foundation sent two of its officials to attend the Highway African Conference, especially the pre-conference workshop on the African Regional Forum for Media Development (ARFMD). A further result of this is that the Foundation will support some activities of the Highway Africa Conference and those of AMI.

§ In June, I chaired the first session of the UNESCO International Expert Group Meeting in Paris, France. The report of the meeting, entitled “Teacher Training Curricula Enrichment on Media and Information Literacy”, has since been released. This Expert Group will hold meetings as and when there is need. Other experts came from countries such as the UK, Canada, USA, New Zealand, France, among others.

§ In March, I was invited by Orebro University to deliver a paper entitled "The Challenge of African Journalism Education in the Age of Global Terrorism" at the university's conference on "Media's Role for Democratization in Post-Conflict Countries in the Age of the 'Global War on Terrorism'". The conference was a joint initiative of journalism teachers and researchers in Finland, Norway and Sweden. My paper has been abridged for the Rhodes Journalism Review. It has also been repurposed as a chapter for a forthcoming book.

§ In September, I delivered a paper on "China in the African Mediascape: A Critical Interjection" at the University of Westminster in London, England. The paper highlighted three moments of Chinese insertion into the African media landscape, namely technical support, ideological commitment and cultural engagement. The paper argued for an analysis of these dynamics anchored on a critical perspective that acknowledges both the historical context of Chinese support to African media and the agency of contemporary Africa to evolve a media system that reflects the changing political economy of communication. The paper is billed for publication in the next issue of the Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS).

§ In December, I presented a paper on media, democracy and development in Africa at the influential Ditchley Foundation in Oxfordshire, England. The Ditchley Foundation was originally set up as a think-tank to promote the transatlantic alliance between the US and the UK.

§ In December, during a session of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) held in Athens, Greece, Prof, Guy Berger and I presented a paper aimed at critically assessing the tools available for ‘measuring’ media development. The paper is available on the GFMD web site.

Prof. Fackson Banda
22/01/2009