Radio as a training platform for journalism is the most prominent medium used by the majority of journalism training and education centres surveyed in the inaugural Mapping Journalism Training Centres in sub-Saharan Africa Report. The study also found that digital skills are a priority training area for these centres, while multimedia digital skills are identified as a need for both students and practicing journalists.
Advanced digital skills for research and data gathering are a need and are seen as a key value for many journalism training centres as journalists now need to report on more complex issues as the media landscape continues to evolve along with the ever-changing technology. J-Schools also need to keep up with these changes.
This new study, conducted by Wits Journalism and the FOJO Media Institute is aimed to map journalism training centres in sub-Saharan Africa. The project found 127 centres (mostly universities, colleges and institutes) in 19 countries. However, this inaugural report, released in December 2020, focused on journalism training and education centres in 10 countries. These countries include South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Mauritius.
This initial mapping study excludes centres from the Francophone African countries and includes only one of five Lusophone countries. The countries that were included in the report were selected based on Fojo Media and Wits Journalism’ project partners. However, in total, 55 journalism training centres were mapped in the region. What the report also does not do, is evaluate the quality or strength of the training centres mentioned in this study.
The overarching purpose of this study was to identify trends in journalism education and training, the challenges and areas of creativity and teaching, how they are responding to a changing environment.
Covid-19 has accelerated interest in online education and forced institutions to find alternative ways of teaching such as using tools and platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp. The report notes that “the pandemic has shifted perceptions about what is possible.” Some training centres have also experimented with other forms of teaching such as e-learning that comprises blended learning and/or online-only modules.
Of the centre’s surveyed, the Namibia Media Trust is the only institution to have experimented with massive open online courses (MOOCs). Many centres are emerging from the pandemic with a renewed understanding of distance learning and its potential. A hybrid model of teaching could be a possibility to deliver learning in the future. Institutions like the Namibia Trust and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism are looking to leverage the possibilities of e-learning to Francophone African countries. But the challenges of data and bandwidth remain a thorn for many of these institutions.
Other key highlights
- Practical training is a priority for all mediums and is seen as the best way of preparing journalism students for the newsroom. Training for both students and practicing journalists is seen as an important marker and differentiator.
- Investigative journalism training and courses is an important unit for many centres, and is in high demand. Knowledge and investigative tools to use for countries with limited access to the internet are needed. Other investigative skills that are in-demand are for data journalism, advanced investigative techniques, digital security and fact-checking to name a few.
- Digital skills are key, especially important in investigative journalism. The report noted that data journalism training in West Africa is close to non-existent.
- Introduce public relations courses within journalism training, as the report notes, many female graduate students do not stay in journalism for a long time and often move into public relations and corporate communications. This study also postulates that the journalistic and multimedia skills taught at institutions of higher learning are “transferable across a range of career paths”.
- The report extrapolated mixed findings on the gender of students, with many reporting a higher intake of female students than male. Some centres found that fewer women were studying journalism at a higher level. However, the study notes that the switch comes into effect in the newsroom where fewer women do not work for long compared to their male counterparts.
What do you think are key skills that a journalist needs for 2021? How should J-Schools respond to the practical, evolving skills needs for journalists? Share your comments below or send us an email with your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.