Mediafrica launched in SA

journalistJOHANNESBURG - Stellenbosch University (SU) has launched its new journalism centre, Mediafrica. The new centre will become the base for developing well-trained, professional media workers who can competently tell Africas story, and report objectively on important issues affecting the continent.

SU is home to one of the top 12 journalism schools in Africa, according to a 2007 Unesco survey. Prof Lizette Rabe, head of the SU Journalism Department, said in a statement that Mediafrica would train a generation of journalists who would guard democracy through their ethical reporting and investigative work in a range of media genres.

An informed society is an empowered society, said Rabe. Journalism is one of the keys to empowerment. We need quality journalism to advance human development in Africa. Mediafrica will help us to realise these goals.

Rabe said that, relative to Africa, South Africa has great media freedom. However, relative to the West, South Africa has certain limitations.

With the current noises, media freedom is under serious threat and the public, private and business sectors must all pull together to avoid the threats becoming reality. If so, we will not be a democracy anymore, she said.

African journalists who strive for a free and independent media face regular harassment at the hands of state authorities. Zimbabwean journalist John Masuku, executive director of the independent radio station Voice of the People, which broadcasts out of Harare, has personally experienced this persecution.

Masuku is working on his masters at SU on the role of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in dealing with national issues. He spoke openly about the role of the media in building a democracy.

We are the watchdogs of our fragile, polarised system of government. After many years of one party rule, Zimbabwe is characterised by a lack of freedom of expression and association.

He said that the media could help to improve this situation by monitoring and reporting objectively on developments. We must also expose all forms of corruption, and help the nation heal. We must make inputs into constitutional and media reform.

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