Why I am not an uber blogger

Well there are no doubt many, many reasons. But what I’m thinking of here is my colleague Ethan who went to the Pop!Tech 2006 conference and appeared to manage to blog the entire event verbatim, in real time, with witty observations and links to and discussions of others’ coverage. How does he do that?

I, on the other hand, at a small and intimate conference in Norway, find myself far more inclined to blog about the picture in the main space at the Norwegian Institute of Journalism. Here it is, all four panels.


Now I find this rather ominous. Crows are considered birds of ill omen in many cultures across the globe and the bringer of the news of death.

Anyway, let’s get a little closer to the bird on the right of the picture…


… still can’t see it? let’s go right close up to that wing…


Yes. The harbinger of doom, the portent of death is composed of…. news(papers).

UPDATE Had I actually read through the above Wikipedia link to the end I might have worked out what I have now been told, which is that these birds are actually Hugin and Munin, raven servants to the chief god of Scandinavian mythology:

Hugin and Munin travel the world bearing news and information to Odin. Hugin is “thought” and Munin is “memory”. They are sent out at dawn to gather information and return in the evening. They perch on the god’s shoulders and whisper the news into his ears.

This sounds too much like the secret police for comfort so despite the greater relevance to journalism I still think the artist is subverting the profession. /update

So that distraction explains why I haven’t written up my notes to the (very interesting) afternoon sessions about journalism in Africa. The unvarnished outline appears, for the record, below the fold.

Out of Africa

Africa is seen as synonym for death, disease, disaster and despair (4ds). Correct, supplement and fill in gaps.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault (new book – New News Out of Africa)

Kristin Skare Orgeret doctorate on African TV news, special reference to SABC post apartheid.

CHG – tribute to Norwegian NGOs in Africa. Short history of civil rights movement in US. Rejected term “objective” to be replaced by “fair”.

Africa presented in media through the prism of the 4ds. New news not through rose-tinted glasses. Good news – not making Africa look good but news that can be used by people to help them make decisions about their lives, things, people they care about.

Niger compassion fatigue explained in the way that giving wasn’t seen to make a difference because of the way continent reported in msm – through prism of 4ds.

Entry to Africa in 1985 in Saf. No permission from state to visit black areas. Five part series “apartheid people”, looked beyond clichés of good protesters bad government. Talks about the differences in SAf society since that first visit and now.

First years of democracy. Parallel to US history. Through prism of US history views SAf, so even if experiencing growing pains there are principles in constitution (very liberal) are in place to address all issues and will get it right.

Baby steps to democracy. Like SAf but without assets most other countries taking similar steps. New rules of road (not cold war proxy) nepad peer review, may not lead to Af renaissance but they should be given a chance. These concrete steps don’t fit into the paradigm of the 4ds and are therefore not known. Most western journos may be aware of them but gatekeepers, editors back home, say public isn’t interested in these things. But CHG says 100s people turned out to hear her speak.

People are being blown in second wind of change sweeping people into streets to demand freedom rights equality. Very good news about elections – increasing nos of leaders stepping down as result of electoral processes. Trend that gives more hope and optimism for potential of African renaissance.

Reporting – Af journos meet regularly. Quotes Gwen Lister, freedom fighter, now fighting to maintain truth. “if there is to be an af ren we the media remain a vital part of it”. New spirit among af journos… resources and training limited, past corruption leaves many compromised. But want to portray selves in ways recognisable to selves unlike intl media reports. Journos also contributing to baby steps to democracy. Zimbabwe, worst case of press freedom on continent at the moment. Used to have guerrilla typewriters during freedom struggle, now have guerrilla computers. Writing truth, even though no pay. In the middle of the night people sneak into internet cafés and download story nobody is telling so others can know the truth.

Win-win situation Ghana, past two elections journos fanned out across country, there with mobile phones counting in ballots phoned to radio stations as ballots counted so transparency much greater.

Holding governments to account. World they report in process of becoming… journos guardian of new world, ensuring info for people, essential to encourage young africans wanting to become journos. Dreams propel ambition. If we encourage Af jns their stories will surely give rise to new gen of Africans and of world people who will understand continent in a way that will help them to embrace it as the mother of us all.

Is there a need for an African journalism?

What challenges journo systems etc developed in west face when imported into developing world. Globalisation, coca-cola-isation etc but don’t hear about BBC-ation… enormous influence when implementing public service broadcasting model.

Doctoral thesis. Sigh. Exceptional situation of SABC in transition to democracy as well as the challenges faced by those elsewhere.

finding – PSB established perceptions don’t serve complex society in transition well. Main challenges – increased commercial pressure, and political pressure.

Increasing interference of political figures in both management and editorial decision making process. PSB links to government a weakness allowing this to happening.

psb usually related to nation, generally quite homogenous. complex multicultural and multiracial in sabc. bbc came into being in 1920 represented interests of only a small part of the country/nation.

pbs blind to differences and inequalities. doesn’t necessarily serve countries in west either, new questions of groups and identities. survey 2000 – 97% speaking roles white 2% black 1% asian. sky much better. 2012 40% youngsters in key urban areas from ethnic minority. psb hasn’t followed multi-ethnicity of society.

Norway integration but cultural identity. Ethnic minorities not however well presented.

Western model should be re-examined in African light. Ubuntu journalism. Egalitarian, humanist philosophy-

include more ordinary people, the grassroots;
audiences feel ownership;
identify more representative voices;
move beyond the authorities;
a society’s story should be told in a cacophony of voices;
afro-humanism as a fundamental value

zulu greeting sowabona – i see you, brining you into existence.

journo should be more involved, not objective observer but active participant… is it possible to align an involved, humanist ubuntu form of journalism with the traditional value of objectivity?… she says no. underlines social responsibility value which is often forgotten. core to cover poverty and hiv/aids.

driven by principles closer to sco res, link individual to world, yes… need alt journalsm and media system which allows it, rest of world that can look at. include broader sector of voices.

people must be able to recognise themselves, their backgrounds and their dreams… contribute to developing those representations.


is ubuntu journalism good news?

chg has argument with ubuntu journalism… principles mustn’t reject don’t throw baby out with the bathwater. bad idea to separate journalism of africa from rest of world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_(ideology)

cellphone interesting but also frail – ethiopian government stopped sms texts after used for organisation.

make sure some way of verifying and checking information.

One Reply to “Why I am not an uber blogger”

  1. (Huh. I thought you *were* an uberblogger.) But anyway, it’s just that business of following the eye, rather than directing it, that makes you a magnificent writer & photographer.

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