Citizen Journalism Africa project

Date: November 4, 2010
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SANGONeT has spearheaded the Citizen Journalism Africa Project (CJA). The CJA Project is a partnership between the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) and the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos). The project’s aim is to build capacity among selected civil society organisations to use online and offline citizen journalism as a means of publication, lobbying, networking and knowledge-sharing within their respective constituencies. The project empowers those in the fields of gender, children and youth, HIV and AIDS and rural communities to use both traditional and digital media strategically to support democratic processes and a diverse and independent media environment. It has been implemented in six African countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique, through the Citizen Journalism Africa portal.

The project arose due to the global avilability of internet and mobile phones, which mean that anybody can potentially have access to online newspapers, listen to preferred radio stations and even watch television. In the same vein, internet users have become bloggers, Twitter-ers and begun to use many other web-platforms and tools that turn users into citizen journalists.

The CJA project gives users an opportunity to write articles and even blog about issues they could not not write about in their own countries. This included users from Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, who wrote about issues such as homosexuality, since their ability to talk about homosexuality is limited by restrictive laws in their countries.

However, Mukendi noted that there are some challenges in citizen journalism such as poor internet connectivity, writing skills, and access to computers, yet the successes far outweigh the challenges, and with the use of mobile technology and editing, citizen voices will not be silenced.

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