Technology & Convergence In Brief


- S3 Graphics, a leading provider of graphics and visualization technologies, last week announced its latest S3 Graphics Chrome 440 GTX desktop cards. Boards are now available at online retail affiliate GStore, with future shipments by key European partners in addition to multiple retail partners in Asia.

- Kaya FM 95.9 has a new MD Greg Maloka. His appointment becomes effective 1 July 2008.

- Gearhouse SA is offering a newly established service called EventCam, a camera and broadcast facility headed by Ian Watts. EventCam is a solution for broadcasting, recording or displaying at events such as conferences, concerts, product launches and expo’s. “We can set up video-conferencing via satellite, and our equipment is top of the range, featuring cameras like the Sony PD170 and D50,” Watts explained. EventCam can work all over the continent. “We have a fly-away unit designed specifically to be compact and mobile enough to fit into any 737-aeroplane – if there is an airline flying to that country, we can broadcast from there.”

- The African Photo Entrepreneur Programme is specifically aimed at growing photo entrepreneurs who can compete on the global stage in terms of photo production and market savvy. Launched ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the programme will be run in South Africa in the latter half of 2008 and represents an investment of over R30,000 in each participant.

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:

Lola Kenya Screen 2008 Skill-Development Programmes

Lola Kenya Screen, the annual international audiovisual media platform—festival, production workshop and market—for children and youth in eastern Africa held in Nairobi every second week of August, has short-listed candidates for its various skill-development programmes.

During Lola Kenya Screen, children and youth serve on the film selection committee, film jury, festival Press, artistic and cultural events presentation and critical appreciation of creativity.

Another group of children undergoes practical training in filmmaking and produce at least five short films by the end of the six-day film production workshop. These films not only premiere during the closing ceremony of Lola Kenya Screen but are then promoted and distributed through international film and cultural festivals. All the films are conceived, written, story-board-written, directed and animated by children under professional guidance.

To participate, though, one must apply for participation in the official Film Jury, Festival Press, Events Presentation, Film Production Workshop, and Film Selection Committee. All other events-performing arts, seminars and film shows are open to everyone.

By focusing on children and youth who represent the present and the future, Lola Kenya Screen seeks to cultivate sustainable audiences for cinema, inculcate in society the culture of producing quality films, and marketing audiovisual productions for socio-economic development.

Lola Kenya Screen, that operates on the principle that audiovisual media must create opportunities for children and youth to define their development wholistically, uses appropriate and available technologies to deliver audiovisual content that complements, enhances, entertains and promotes learning strategies among children and youth in the promotion of literacy, gender equity, independent thought, human rights, environmental responsibility and global health.

From the film production workshop some 15 children aged 9-15 years make short animation films that are compiled into a single DVD.

The first compilation made in 2006 called Films by Children for Children, won the Africa Grand Prize at the 5th World Summit on Media and Children in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007 and was screened in Gdynia and Krakow (Poland), Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa), Amsterdam (Holland), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Kigali (Rwanda), Kampala (Uganda), and Goree Island (Senegal), among other places.

The second compilation made in 2007, African Folk Tales Animated, has been shown in Brussels (Belgium), Tampere (Finland), Berlin, Hamburg and Munich (Germany), Kigali (Rwanda), Kampala (Uganda), Zanzibar (Tanzania) and is still on the international festival circuit.

Though targeting Nairobi and its environs, applications for consideration for the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen have come in from more than 100 candidates from Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe who applied for consideration.

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.