To support and organise inclusive and well-informed public debate, enable excluded voices to be heard, and hold decision-makers accountable.
- The challenges of media independence, ethics and professionalism
At the end of the 2010 decade, challenges to media are taking new forms:
- Media are increasingly permeated by religious outlooks, (with the emergence of confessional media, religious broadcasts on general radio and TV stations, and journalists announcing their own religious allegiances). Religious discourse does not always tend towards moderation and inclusion
- Some community radio stations seem to be abandoning their mission and their services to their communities to follow the agendas of their financial donors; or they are letting themselves be used by local political powers or the most conservative religious lobbies
- All types of media are reflecting and amplifying the growing conservatism that surrounds them in relation to gender issues such as women and sexual minorities
- New legal, institutional and organisational context for media
New developments are often working against media’s ability to fulfil the role expected of them:
- Access to Information: The legal right of access to information is not always guaranteed, despite some efforts to protect it (APAI). Ghana and Nigeria are exceptions
- Journalism statues: Some countries are adopting regressive statutes for journalism. The statutes adopted by Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire include corporatist rules (for instance, on conditions for joining the journalism profession) that fly in the face of international norms
- Journalism training: There is too little provision for journalism training. Established schools of journalism are struggling to adapt to new media and new types of journalism; private colleges are springing up, of variable quality
- Training workshops: There are hundreds of these, but generally they are one-off events that don’t make any lasting difference. If a workshop lasts for two or three days, and has no follow-up support, the handful of participants in one country who may be evaluated a couple of years later are far from demonstrating that the workshop had any impact
- Media umbrella organisations: Many historic umbrella organisations for media are built around traditional disparities of gender and generations, like most established public and civil society institutions. They are struggling to find a role today. Some of them seem to have given up advocacy, except for occasional lobbying for financial support for their media members from donor development agencies.
Sales of print titles are gradually falling everywhere. New multimedia companies are emerging – and concentrating ownership. Online media are emerging, profit-seeking. Public financial support for media is poorly distributed and not evaluated. West African media have not found a viable economic model.
- Legal framework: Decriminalisation of press violations, and Access to Information laws. Some countries, such as Niger, offer positive legal models
- Regulatory frameworks: In recent years some regulatory bodies, notably the Higher Communication Council (CSC) in Niger, have acted with great independence from different powers, and been quite effective
- Self-regulation: Some self-regulatory bodies have been established with the means to operate effectively (CORED).
- Organisations: some newly-established journalist associations are attracting the younger generation. Examples are the Association of On-line Editors and Professionals (APPEL) in Senegal; the Association of African Women Communication Professionals (APAC) in Niger; the Network of Women Journalists and Communication Professionals (REFJPCI) in Cote d’Ivoire; the Women in Media Network (WIMN)-West-African Section; and around new media, national associations of bloggers, in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mali.
- Education: One rare example of a training school that has opened itself up to imparting real professionalism is the Higher School of journalism, internet and communication professions (EJICOM) in Senegal