Elvira van Noort was very excited to see her former professors at the University of Eutrect; it was great they were here to witness how she has “grown up” and busy training citizen journalism in Grahamstown. I almost went to the table to say hello to the professors; given her excitement.
Elvira represents many journalists who are meeting at the same venue with their former lecturers attending the World Journalism Educators Congress, a parallel meeting with Highway Africa.
It is the first time that such a meeting is taking place; so when people complain about the standards of journalism, you can turn to the educators and find out whats going on; at the same time, educators can turn and question journalists on what happened to all the lessons and massive notes given in class.
For a conference that is usually held in September and had few scholarships given the world cup pricing of everything, Highway Africa is very attended and the interaction with the educators is likely to have positive effects.
The corporate sector also turned up as usual; MTN, Telkom and Multichoice are here with huge stands. One of the sessions had the corporates and Nozipho January-Bardill from MTN was asked about the stories she thinks journalists should be covered.
Her answers boiled down to the usual stuff of positive and detailed stories; she gave the example of a BBC documentary on Oliver Tambo and wonders why SABC had not done it. The upshot was that the reason people switch to international channels is mainly because of the depth of reportage.
For the next three days, there will be interactions and discussions on some of the challenges affecting journalism and the continent. There will be no shifting blame because the journalists, educators, public and private sector are there to defend or expound on the status quo.