17.06.2011 -

Ethical reporting of health issues in Africa: Exploring civic awareness with journalism practitioners and educators

The Governance and AIDS Programme of the African Democracy Institute (Idasa-GAP), in partnership with UNESCO and the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies, are holding a symposium for journalists and journalism educators to raise awareness around citizen-centred and ethical approaches to health journalism in Africa.

The symposium is taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa, on 17 and 18 June 2011.


Professor Clifford Christians, a leading scholar on ethics in media will introduce the discussion on the role of journalists in creating caring communities. David Holwerk, a scholar in democracy and media at the Kettering Foundation in Dayton Ohio (US), will talk about the potential of journalists to give citizens a real part in the search for solutions to public problems like health care.


The symposium is part of UNESCO's ongoing project to adapt the <a href="ev.php?URL_ID=24824&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201">UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education</a> to practical approaches to reporting health and other developmental issues in South Africa. The Curricula link journalism education to broader society and equip students for their diverse roles in democracy.


Senior journalists from leading newspapers in South Africa are attending the event as well as Knight International Health Journalism Fellows from Mozambique and Zambia, and a representative from BBC East Africa. Educators from UNESCO's potential centres of excellence in South Africa - University of Stellenbosch, Tshwane University of Technology, Walter Sisulu University and Rhodes University - as well as journalism educators from the Universities of Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal are also participating in the symposium.


The symposium forms part of the activities of the newly formed Health Journalism graduate programme at Rhodes University.


The Programme Director of Idasa-GAP, Kondwani Chirambo, says: "This symposium provides an opportunity to discuss ways in which health journalists can care for their audience while at the same time providing all citizens with options to become actors in finding solutions to the major challenges - like HIV and AIDS - encountered in health systems on this continent and elsewhere. We hope that platforms like this would lead to more powerful engagements between journalists and citizens contributing to healthier communities."


Jaco du Toit of UNESCO says the Grahamstown symposium is an important event because it enables media professionals and journalism education institutions to support comprehensive responses to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

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