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Who's Reporting Africa Now?

Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists, and Multimedia

Kate Wright

As news organizations cut correspondent posts and foreign bureaux, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to expand into news reporting. Why and how do journalists use the photographs, video, and audio that NGOs produce? What effects does this have on the kinds of stories told about Africa? And how have these developments changed the nature of journalism and NGO-work?

Who’s Reporting Africa Now?: Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists, and Multimedia is the first book to address these questions—using frank interviews and internal documents to shed light on the workings of major news organizations and NGOs, collaborating with one another in specific news production processes. These contrasting case studies are used to illuminate the complex moral and political economies underpinning such journalism, involving not only NGO press officers and journalists but also field workers, freelancers, private foundations, social media participants, businesspeople, and advertising executives.

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Chapter 7. Digital Dialogue, International Development, and Blogging: The Guardian and Internews




The Guardian and Internews

Can NGOs foster greater social inclusion by facilitating digital conversations between marginalized people and wealthy media audiences living far away? Some critics say that they can—and should (Beckett 2008; Beckett and Mansell 2008). Their work draws from Castells’ theory of the networked society (2000) in order to reposition NGOs, audiences and other media actors as “produsers”, who continually create and consume digital media discourse in collaboration with each other (Deuze 2008; Gillmor 2006). International news is seen as being a key site for such fluid and multidirectional exchanges, with proponents of “networked” journalism claiming that it enables new, digital dialogues which move beyond the dichotomies of “North” and “South”, “information rich” and “information poor” (Beckett and Mansell 2008, 99).

These forms of “networked journalism” involve reconceptualizing the role of journalists: viewing them as facilitators who enable collective deliberation by filtering, curating, linking and contextualizing others’ contributions (Jarvis 2006; van der Haak et al. 2012). But this implies a very different approach to factual truth: privileging forms of ongoing learning, in which the act of knowing is never complete (Jarvis 2009, discussed in Robinson 2011). Thus the exchanges involved in “networked journalism” rely upon different forms of trust facilitated by “transparency”—a term encompassing value-laden no←187 | 188→tions of openness, honesty and accountability (Kovach and Rosenstiel 2001; Singer 2007).

“Transparency” involves two separate, but potentially interlinked strands (Karlsson...

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