The African Union Media Fellowship – A Platform for Cross-border Collaborative Journalism
The inaugural African Union Media Fellowship has been hailed for paving the way for cross border collaboration among journalists and content creators in Africa in ways that could break longstanding citizens’ overreliance on external sources for information about developments on the continent.
The one-year long fellowship, which was inaugurated in May this year, has 13 journalists on board who represent 14 countries of different regions of the African continent. Over the past months, fellows have been exploring ways to not only balance narrative of developments on the continent but also to operationalize a network and frameworks of exchange with each other in a bid to boost reach and impact of their content and reporting.
After a success study tour in Germany and the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Ethiopia, Phase 3 of the AU Media Fellowship two-week long study tour to AU organs in South Africa kicked off at the Pan-African Parliament.
The 4th Vice-President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Hon. François Ango Ndoutoume, in his address, welcomed the AU Media Fellows to PAP which he described as the home of the African people which refers to the role of the PAP’s mandate to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.
“The mandate of the PAP as a representation of the peoples of Africa cannot be implemented without engaging and involving citizens and civil society. The media therefore remains the most effective tool to achieve this objective, Hon Ndoutoume said and continued his remarks by highlighted the critical role the media plays in enhancing active citizen engagement. “|The PAP depends on journalists to inform the public about its work. It is also important to note that covering the continental Parliament requires an understanding of its origin, mandate and rules of procedure.
He concluded his remarks by calling on the media to regain control of the editorial line and the media coverage dedicated to Africa is the only way to counter negative narratives about the continent.
According to Leslie Richer, the African Union Director for Information and Communication, cross border collaborative journalism being shaped through the AU Media Fellowship positions media outlets and journalists across Africa to own the narrative of the continent.
“We started this program so that you can also start realizing that you’re not in competition with each other. There’s a bigger challenge for us because we do not even collaborate as journalists, and that must change. So that’s the role the African Union has to play, to bring media houses and journalists together,” she said the Pan-Africa Parliament on Wednesday, 30th November, 2022,
The AU Media Fellowship programme, is implemented by the African Union (AU) through the Information and Communication directorate, supported by the Germany Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). Through the fellowship, the AU seeks to boost ownership of key policies and programs, and accelerate achievement of goals under its Agenda 2063, which center around delivering socio-economic and developmental changes on the continent.
The study tour to the AU organs and specialized agencies began at the AU Pan-African Parliament, African Union Development Agency (AUDA- NEPAD), Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) and South African institutions which include South Africa Broadcasting (SABC), The MultiChoice Group, Brand South Africa, Wits School of Journalism which hosted the 3rd series of the AU Media Roundtable. The study tour will conclude with a guided tour to the Republic of South Africa Parliament and Media Lab retreat.
“From your study trip in Germany, Ethiopia and now in South Africa, this connecting of thoughts that you are having is going to help not only to do your work better, but also as journalists you are creating a network, you are actually better able to address the issues on the continent and to create that narrative that we want. A balance narrative of developments on the continent, one that is a clear representation of who we are but one that speaks to the situation that we find ourselves in,” Richer said.
For the final phase of the fellowship program, the AU Media fellows, 2022 Cohort will graduate will host the Continental AU Media roundtable to discuss the future of Media in Africa, it will be held in May 2023.