ALEX NJOVU, Grahamstown
A LECTURER at Rhodes University in South Africa has bemoaned the ‘death’ of radical journalism in Africa.
Rod Amner says media houses should invest in radical and participatory journalism to effectively address some of the problems facing the continent.
Mr Amner was speaking here on Monday when he made a presentation titled ‘Local Government Journalism’ to 20 Southern African Development Community journalists attending a one- week workshop at Rhodes University.
The workshop is being held under the theme ‘Local Government Journalism and Accountability’.
“Radical journalism worked here in South Africa during the apartheid period. It managed to bring out the evils that were taking place in various communities. The media in South Africa played an important role at the time. Radical media helps to expose the abuse of power by those in authority,” he said.
Mr Amner said radical media constitutes all elements of journalism such as objectivity, truth, transparency, loyalty to the people, providing a forum for public criticism and compromise, neutrality and fairness.
He said Africa needs to revive the principles of radical journalism.
Mr Amner said radical media plays an important role in the fight against poverty, embezzlement, corruption and gender inequality.
He said radical journalism is more advanced than investigative reporting.
“Many African communities have remained undeveloped because the media has neglected its role. Participatory reporting is also good because it brings people together in solving their problems. There is no-one who can better tell an African story than an African man,” he said.
Mr Amner said institutions of governance such as local authorities can only be held accountable if participatory journalism is applied.
He said it is unfortunate that councils are associated with vices such as illegal allocation of land, corruption, abuse of authority, incompetence and lack of accountability and transparency in service provision.
Mr Amner said journalism is a modern cartography which creates a map for citizens to navigate society.
“Most municipalities in Africa, including here in the Southern Africa, have failed to provide quality services to the people. Service delivery is pathetic because the people managing these institutions have neglected their core duties. It’s the duty of journalists to make them work by pointing out their wrongs,” he said.
Mr Amner said media houses should be innovative for them to remain relevant to their audiences.
“Journalists must always serve the interests of the community and not of the elite people or organisations. We cannot afford to take sides or be part of the problem. We must play the role of watchdog very well.
“We must be alert if we are to seriously fight crime, poverty, violence against women and children, and any wrong-doing in our communities,” Mr Amner said.