Speakers at a conflict resolution and minority rights conference in Dakar, Senegal, have called on journalists in Africa to develop an interest in reporting on issues concerning minority groups or communities and the less privileged in society to help protect their rights.
Given the growing interconnections between minority groups issues, community tensions and conflicts in Africa in recent times, they said that journalists needed to move beyond event driven reportage and dig out issues affecting the rights of the less privileged.
That, they said, would help build, consolidate peace and protect the rights of the less privileged in society.
Speaking at the conference, the National Coordinator of the Media Reforms Coordinating Group (MRCG) in Sierra Leone, Dr Francis Sowa, asked journalists to identify thematic issues relating to minority communities and investigate them instead of waiting for events to report on.
“There is nothing wrong with reporting on events but the problem with that is that, it leaves more of a kind of drama that is inconclusive, what makes thematic reporting an appropriate style of reporting. It helps to shed light on issues which are not normally in the mainstream media” he said.
In reporting on issues of the less privileged, he admonished journalists to allow them to tell their own stories instead of speaking for them, saying that “if you are reporting on minority issues, the public expects to hear from the victims themselves, give them the opportunity to put out their concerns”.
For his part, the President of Fahamus, a pan-African organisation which supports the movement of social justice, Mahamadou Tidiane Kesie, said in order for all African countries to remain united and peaceful, all members must be at equal levels in every facet of life.
He said journalists were a fulcrum around which unity, sustainable peace and development thrived, hence, the need to for them to always discharge their duties responsibly.
The Executive Director of the Media Platform for Environment and Climate Change (MPEC), Ghana, Ama Kudom-Agyemang, lamented that the Africa media were not given prominence to issues that were affecting the less privileged such as climate change, conflict and injustice.
She, therefore, charged them to redirect their focus on the vulnerable in society to change the status quo in Africa.
Organised by Fahamu Africa, a pan-African organisation which supports the movement of social justice in partnership with Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) and the European Union, the two-day conference brought together selected journalists and activists from Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
It seeks to create a platform for the participants to network and share ideas on social justice, community conflicts and migration-related issues that affect the lives of minority groups in Africa.
The Europe Media Officer of the MRGI, Anna Alboth, indicated that at the end of the conference, a network of journalists and activists would be formed to help champion issues of conflict resolution, migration and raise awareness of the rights of the less privileged in society.
SOURCE: graphic online