Technology & Convergence In Brief


- On 13 August 2008, Unity Radio, a Freetown-based radio station owned by the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), was ransacked by supporters of the ruling All People's Congress party (APC), disrupting the normal broadcast of the station.

- Katsina state government has stopped the broadcast of a television programme sponsored by a community-based organisation, 'Gidauniyar Jihar Katsina' Katsina foundation chaired by the ANPP presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari.

- d6 Media is pleased to announce the launch of What's On, South Africa's newest and most comprehensive entertainment and events website. The site features possibly the largest events database in South Africa, and covers music, cultural, lifestyle, outdoor and community events.

Editorial contact
Mark Parsons or Rene Goldin
Tel: 021 409 7828

- Chyron has announced that Nigeria based broadcaster, Channels TV, Lagos has purchased an LEX2 graphics system for its 24/7 local news channel. The installation was carried out as part of a major upgrade by JVC Professional Europe.

- Popular radio presenter Kevin Fine is joining the 94.7Highveld Stereo lineup on a freelance basis, it was announced late last week.

Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens

Dates: 8-10 September 2008

Venue: Eden Grove Complex, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

1. Background

Highway Africa is a partnership between Rhodes University (School of Journalism and Media Studies) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), with the support of several partners, development agencies and sponsors.

For eleven years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world (701 in 2007). In the last four years Highway Africa has evolved into a multi-pronged programme with the following components:

- Research: mapping the terrain of the challenges of the interface of technology, journalism and the media

- Education and Training: responding to the gaps identified in the research this project makes a practical intervention by re-skilling, upskilling, educating and training journalists.

- News Agency: a niche news agency with a network of correspondents across the continent it offers weekly news digest on ICT developments in Africa

- Conference: the flagship of the programme, it is the forum for critical reflection on journalism, media and technology and a celebration of Africa

2. 2008 Theme: Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens

Over the past few years the world has witnessed a surge in the use of new media - especially those based on the World Wide Web - by ordinary users across the globe. Parallel to this upsurge has been the development of the semantic web (Web 2.0, Web 3.0). The emergence of social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and ubiquitous use of instant messaging technologies such as Skype, Yahoo and MSN has marked the shift in the utility of the internet. Time magazine's 2006 decision to name "you" its person of the year at once acknowledged and publicized the prevalence and utility of content generated by ordinary internet users.

Mobile phone technology and its dramatic penetration in Africa and the developing world opens myriad possibilities for empowering the ordinary citizen to access and to generate content. Through “Mxit” style systems there is now enormous use of instant messaging on cellphones, raising new challenges for dissemination and interaction with journalistic content

Across the globe examples exist of news sites whose content is generated by ordinary citizens. South Korea may have the best examples but the phenomenon is to be found in as diverse places such as South Africa and the Philippines. The structure and use of such content is frequently different from that of the mainstream although there can be similarities between both.

Some media houses have encouraged their readers/audiences to contribute to major stories by sending in their photographs, video and audio clips, and in doing so make ordinary citizens part of the news production process. Other news media organizations have created options for audiences to subscribe to news alerts to their mobile phones.

Citizenship has often been counterposed with consumership. In much of Africa, there has also been the identity category of subjects added to the mix - where people are neither citizens with rights, nor consumers with some power, but dispossessed and often stateless subjects of tyranny. The advent of citizen journalism means that people can not only consume journalism, but also produce it. They now have, in real terms, not only the rights of access to information produced by journalism, but the right to free expression in a practical form, where they can generate on and comment on journalism. With new media, this means that subjects have new possibilities to build these freedoms.

The challenges in the production of media and its distribution impinge on the quality of journalism and the professionalism of journalists. The 2008 conference will seek to address a number of questions related to the goals of journalism in society and how the ordinary citizen fits within those goals as a consumer and producer.

The questions to be addressed include:

- What is Citizen Journalism?

- How does journalism serve citizens?

- What quality control exists in citizen journalism?

- What technology is driving citizen journalism?

- What are the African experiences of Citizen Journalism?

- How should ‘traditional’ media respond to citizen journalism?

- What is the ‘business model’ of citizen journalism?

- How is citizen journalism implicated in the democracy project?

- What should be the technical and journalistic skills of citizen journalists?

- What are the gender dynamics in citizen journalism, media ownership and

- What are the ethical issues arising from citizen journalism?

- Is there a case for ‘converged journalism’ and multi-skilling of journalists in Africa?

- What is the role of free software and open source in supporting Africans to have a voice in cyberspace?

- Is mobile technology the future of journalism?

Via formal presentations, keynote addresses, workshops, interviews and practical examples, the Highway Africa Conference will explore the challenges of print, radio, television, online and multimedia.

3. Venue & Participants

Highway Africa takes place in Grahamstown, close to the South African city of Port Elizabeth. The venue is the Rhodes University campus which provides access to state-of-the-art facilities. These include the “intelligent” building called the “Africa Media Matrix” which houses the School of Journalism and Media Studies. There is a convergent computer lab for skills training, and fully equipped seminar rooms.

Accommodation ranges from high quality University Residence rooms through to B&Bs, hotels and guest houses.

The conference is open to journalists, academics, bloggers, students, publishers and other interested media professionals.

A limited number of scholarships will be made available for participants who are unable to cover their costs. The scholarships will be advertised on the Highway Africa website ( from 19 May to 20 June 2008.

4. Parallel and Linked Events

• Highway Africa – SABC New Media Awards ceremony – live televised event

• 3rd Digital Citizen Indaba – using new media for citizen journalism

• Training programme: Advanced Digital Journalism

• Meetings of SA National Editors Forum, Southern African National Editors Forum, The African Editors Forum and community radio representatives

• Free and Open Source Software and African Media: training workshop programme on use of FLOSS in the newsroom

• Book launches

• Exhibitions

For more information:

First African Broadcast, Film and Convergence Conference, Kenyatta Centre, Nairobi

September 23-25, 2008

The first African, Broadcast, Film and Convergence Conference will take place at the Kenyatta Centre in Nairobi, 23-25 September 2008. It will bring together senior broadcasting executives, producers, advertising agency executives, regulators and policy-makers to discuss the challenges faced by the industry over the next five years.

Speakers lined up include: David Waweru, MD, KBC; David Maingi, CEO, Kenya Film Commission; Khalik Sherriff, COO, e.TV; Ian Fernandes, MD, Nation TV’s Digital Division; Toyin Subair, CEO, Hi-TV; Richard Bell, African Telecoms, Media and Technology Fund; Redeemer Kwame, Ghana Telecom on its IP-TV service with Indian partner WiseNet; lawyer Claudia Rinke on international rights issues; Angelo Kinyua, Big Ideas Entertainment; Kenyan producer Thump Campbell; UK’s Lucy Scher, Script Factory; Ronnie Andrews, GTV; Jeremy Nathan, DV8; Lenny Nganga, Saracen Media; Joe Otin, Steadman Group; James Boyd McFie, Business School, Strathmore University; John Sarpong, Africast; Joe Mucheru, Google; and many, many more.

For preliminary details:

Angola: Luanda Film Festival

November 22-29, 2008

The event is intended to stimulate cultural cooperation, particularly in the field of cinema, between local and foreign producers and directors and re-launch the system of production and distribution of cinema in the country. Addressing the launch ceremony, Miguel Hurst said that Angolan Government intends to award prizes to films screened in Angola, both local and foreign, seeking to increment the production of movies in the country. With the expected participation of local and foreign movies, the festival will comprise competitive, non-competitive categories and parallel activities.

Call for submissions: The $100 Film Festival

The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers in Calgary, Canada is seeking submissions for the 17th Annual $100 Film Festival, a three-day exhibition of film on film. It screens short's (under 22 min) on Super8 and 16mm film.

It does not charge entry fees and pays artist fees for all films selected for exhibition. More information at

Deadline for Entries: December 2, 2008.

• 16mm or Super 8 Film under 22min

• MUST provide a 16mm or Super 8 film print for screening.

• Official Release date after December 1, 2006.

The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers
Building J2, 2711 Battleford Ave. SW
Calgary, AB T3E 7L4 CANADA
(403) 205 4747