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African journalists urged to report responsibly

African journalists have been urged to report responsibly to avoid conflict especially during elections and conflicts to help the continent break the cycle of violence.

BY STAFF REPORTER

The call was made at a recent three day workshop on responsible journalism and election violence organised by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Dialogue Exchange Programme workshop brought together 40 participants drawn from the media, academia, government agencies and nongovernmental organisations from across Africa.

“Understanding violence and how it plays out during electioneering periods is key not only for responsible journalism, but also for an informed citizenry,” said AMI CEO Eric Chinje said.

“It is our hope that this joint initiative of AMI-AFSC will be replicated across the continent and that other stakeholders will support such interventions for peaceful electoral processes in Africa.”

Participants had the opportunity to discuss and get a deeper understanding of issues such as psychology and effective communication, media and governance, and responsible journalism in the context of elections.

They also shared experiences on election coverage in their countries and explored strategies that could help promote a culture of enhanced development of peace messages and initiatives during elections on the continent.

The workshop ended with the setting up of an elections reporting network for the purpose of continued sharing of information and experiences.

Participants also made i recommendations on how to promote responsible journalism in the newsroom and beyond.

Alice Anukur, AFSC’s associate director, concluded the discussions on a poetic note, referring to the workshop as a “candle for peace and responsible journalism that was lit here in Nairobi”, and expressed the hope that it “will be the beginning of a long journey to raise awareness on the need to continue the engagement on shared security during electoral processes and to disseminate peace messages”.

AMI is a pan-African organisation that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector from an owner and operator perspective to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth.

AFSC is 100-year-old Quaker non-profit organisation that promotes lasting peace, justice and humanitarian service.

The AFSC won world-wide recognition in 1947 when it accepted Nobel Peace Prize together with Friends. AFSC has been working in Africa since the late 1950s.

AFSC has offices in Burundi, Kenya, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, fostering inter-cultural, interethnic dialogue peaceful coexistence, social cohesion and trauma healing at grassroots.

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