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An African World Cup seen by African journalists

An African World Cup seen by African journalists
 
David Larsen

A richer and more diverse take on this World Cup, the first to be held in Africa. Two organisations have invested time and money to train and bring forward African journalists to cover the soccer tournament.

Our guests are:

• Dominique le Roux, media manager for Africa Media Online and Twenty Ten

• George Lomotey, production coordinator of the African team selected by Canal France International and the African Union of Broadcasters to cover the world cup.

Our two guests belong to organisations who trained African journalists to cover the World Cup. They wanted this first soccer World Cup held in Africa to be an opportunity to bring out the best journalists Africa has to offer so they could have an international platform to give an African spin on the tournament.

“The key here is that we’re not focusing on football-specific reporting," says Dominique le Roux. "We really want to tell Africa stories and we just wanted to use the fact that the world’s attention is on Africa now.”

Twenty Ten is an initiative by Africa Media Online, World Press Photo, Free Voice and Lokaalmondial. The Twenty Ten project officially started in February 2009 and it then involved 126 African journalists from 34 countries across the whole continent.

They participated in online training and attended workshops held in six African countries. The 18 best of these were invited to South Africa for the World Cup. They are photographers, print journalists, radio journalists and online media journalists. All of the material produced is distributed by Africa Media Online to an international market. So far, buyers have mostly shown an interest for the photographs.

The team of 12 African sports journalists selected by Canal France International and the African Union of Broadcasters are commenting on the matches for 41 sub-Saharan African countries, with the exception of Nigeria and South Africa (and only Madagascar for the Indian Ocean).

The 64 matches are transmitted live to 50 public and private TV stations. CFI expects that 400-500 million viewers will watch the games being broadcasts. The 12 journalists come from English, French and Portuguese-speaking Africa.

The Cfi/Aub project started in April 2009 with a training programme designed to see African journalists reach a level of international excellence. It is also meant to ensure that the African journalists may then impart the skills acquired to colleagues back home.

“We find that the journalists from Africa are better able to understand the sub-cultures," says le Roux. This enables them to bring out stories that wouldn’t have been picked up by journalists from Europe or the USA. For example, why are African supporters so unforgiving towards their footballers?

Furthermore, speaking the local languages give the African journalists more privileged access to footballers and local communities.

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