School of Information and Communication Studies, hosts symposium on: The Relationship between Journalism and Foreign Aid

The School of Information and Communication has hosted a symposium on “The Relationship between Journalism and Foreign Aid”. The symposium was the third of three public meetings under a project titled Development Assistance and independent journalism in Africa and Latin America: A cross-national and multidisciplinary research network, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) under the auspices of the Global Challenges Research Fund. Network partners for the project include the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), University of Ghana, University of Cape Town (South Africa), Universidade Catolica de Brasilia (Brazil) and Universidad Nacional de Cordaba (Argentina).

The symposium was convened to examine the influence and impact of foreign aid on journalism practice and education in Africa and Latin America, and to develop a research agenda to examine issues and problems arising from the intersection between journalism, foreign aid, public diplomacy and foreign policy.

  Dr. Chris Paterson introducing the symposium                              Prof Michael Tagoe delivering the welcome address

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Professor Michael Tagoe, Acting Provost of the College of Education, noted that it is important to map the relationship between the media and foreign aid, and to determine whether the receipt of aid has an effect on reportage on sources of aid or donor countries.

Professors Audrey Gadzekpo of the University of Ghana and Herman Wasserman of the University of Cape Town delivered the first presentation on the topic “The Journalism and Foreign Aid Relationship in Africa”. Professor Gadzekpo gave the background about bilateral Aid Donors and their activities, speaking about USAID, UN agencies such as UNESCO and UNDP, African regional groupings, private foundations and NGOs and ways in which they support journalism in Africa. She charted the coordinated aid efforts from various donors and the determining factors for foreign aid. Professor Gadzekpo ended by highlighting the impact of foreign aid on the practice of journalism and stressed the need for donor support to the work of the media.

Professor Herman Wasserman gave a presentation on “Chinese media in Africa”, and spoke about “Aid, Assistance and Audiences”. He spoke about how Chinese presence in Africa has grown since the 2000s and has become more diverse in large African markets. He raised concerns about the fact that the Chinese media has made limited impact in Africa, and hence has to do more to remove audience resistance and deep-rooted negative biases which may be difficult to reverse as far as Chinese media in Africa is concerned. He showed that preconceptions, biases and stereotypes in Chinese media should be given a critical look so that the Chinese media can have a major impact in Africa.


Participants at the symposium at Yiri Lodge

Other presentations at the symposium touched on various aspects in which foreign aid directly or indirectly affects the media and journalism practice. Presentations included “Promoting Enabling Conditions for Media Development in Emerging Democracies: Foreign Aid and Press Freedom Advocacy in Africa” by Prof. Kwame Karikari (presented on his behalf by Dr. Sarah Akrofi-Quarcoo), “The interface between foreign donation and foreign investment in the media industry: Constructing or Destructing Media Development?” by Jacob Nyarko and Eric Opoku Mensah from the University of Cape Coast, “Democratization through Media Development: Key Issues, Assumptions and critical Challenges”, by Susan Abbot, from the University of Westminster, and “Journalism Aid: Country of Origin and Influences on Beneficiary Perceptions and Practices”, by Drs. Gilbert Tietaah, Sarah Akrofi- Quarcoo and Abena Yeboah-Banin, all from the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana.

Presentations and discussions centred on carrying out more comparative studies on the topic, focusing more on what journalism can accomplish in the community, rather than accomplishing the aims of donors, encouraging a critical look at the relationship between aid and journalism, and the need to strengthen community media channels.







Scenes from the symposium

Participants in the symposium were encouraged to explore opportunities for collaborative research and publication. Completed research papers coming out of the symposium are to be considered for publication in a special issue of African Journalism Studies.