Researchers explore relationship between Journalism and Foreign Aid

Accra- Researchers working on Aid in Journalism Project have noted the need to look more into the impact that foreign aid has had on journalism education and practice in Africa and Latin America.

Exploring areas for further research at a symposium held in Accra, the researchers bemoaned the dearth of statistics on foreign aid and journalism.

The symposium, on the theme: The Relationship between Journalism and Foreign Aid, was hosted by the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana.

It was the third of three public meetings held under the project. The first two were held at the University of Leeds in April 2017 and in Cartagena, Colombia, in July 2017.

It sought to examine the influence and impact of aid on journalism practice and education, with a view to developing a research agenda that will examine the issues and problems arising from the intersection between Journalism, Foreign Aid, Public Diplomacy and Foreign Policy; with the researchers presenting highlights from their ongoing studies on the subject.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo of the School of Information and Communication Studies, who made a presentation on Journalism and Aid in Africa, bemoaned the dearth of statistics on foreign aid and journalism.

She said there was not enough information on how much foreign aid had gone into supporting journalism development in Ghana.

She said donor-funded journalism was increasingly becoming prevalent in Ghana, in various forms, some of which had the potential to be problematic.

However, aid to journalism was inevitable due to the nature of journalism as well as the changing nature of the revenue model of the journalism field itself, she said.

Prof Gadzekpo, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said although the lack of statistics on Aid in Journalism limited the assessment of its impact, it was possible to get an idea of the impact by looking at the objectives of the specific donor agencies and the metrics they developed to assess the aid.

However when we take a broader view of the issue and look at the broader picture, it’s really very difficult to determine the kind of impact it’s had, and that’s where research comes in, she said.

Professor Gadzekpo explained that as more researchers delved into the area, both the positive and negative sides of Aid in Journalism would emerge, such as its impact on journalism education.

She said education in Journalism in Africa was western and Euro-centric, such that there was some discomfort of journalism that departed from the norm such as local-language broadcasting.

But is there room to have these practices that are closer to who we are as African storytellers? These are some of the questions we are trying to answer, she said.

Dr Chris Patterson, a Senior Lecturer in International Communication at the University of Leeds, said highlights from the meetings so far showed that many people saw Aid to Journalism as mostly useful, while others saw it as a carry-over of colonialism.

However, most people seemed to agree that it could be done better in a more sustainable and culturally appropriate way, especially as the goals of funders often took over the agenda of the media from what may be the more appropriate targets.

Participants were drawn from some of the partner countries of the Development Assistance and Independent Journalism in Africa and Latin America: A Cross-National and Multidisciplinary Research Network.

The Network partners include Ghana (University of Ghana), South Africa (University of Cape Town), Brazil (Universidade Catolica de Brasilia), and Argentina (Universidad Nacional de Cordoba).

Source: Ghana News Agency


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