Event Reports

World Journalism Education Congress

by Frank Windeck
Over 600 journalism educators from 42 countries descended on the small South African university town of Gramhamstown, for discussions on the challenges facing the sector, and to map out ways of improving the quality of journalism education in a fast and constantly changing media landscape
The second World Journalism Education Congress was launched simultaneously with the 14th Highway Africa Conference at Rhodes University. The organizers of both events said the timing was deliberate, because convening two journalism conferences at the same time created a unique global networking environment for both journalists and trainers.

“It's about building an international network where people know and trust each other”, said Professor Guy Berger, Head of Rhodes Journalism and Media Studies School, and the driving force behind the 2nd WJEC.

The theme of the congress, "Journalism Education in an Age of Radical Change", reflected the major social, political, economic and technological changes sweeping across the globe in general and Africa in particular.

THE “FAME” COMPONENT

The activities of the Forum of African Media Educators (FAME) were also included in the Conference programme. FAME, an initiative funded by the KAS media programme, and hosted by Wits University in Johannesburg, had with this a second gathering since 2009.

FAME began its sessions a day before the conference officially began, with a publishing workshop for its members. Professor Herman Wasserman from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) led the seminar, and there was great interest with the non-FAME delegates to participate in the meeting despite it being flagged as a closed “member only” session.

The publishing workshop was followed by another closed meeting, where Professors Siegfried Weischenberg and Steffen Burkhardt, from the University of Hamburg, outlined why and how their institution was internationalising their media programme whose character is very much based on the exchange programmes it offers. Regarding the African continent, Professor Weischenberg singled out the agreements with the University of Stellenbosch, and the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania).

FAME members then presented their research papers on journalist education in Africa in an open session, as part of the official conference programme. The FAME-delegates came from Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda, providing a continental overview. Cosequently, delegates, especially those from outside Africa, were able to get first hand information about the situation on the continent. The FAME-Session was, despite the competition through a whole range of other sessions, very well attended.