May 23: ONLINE | Resetting the Media Freedom Imperative in Africa’s Democratic Agenda


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May 23: ONLINE | Resetting the Media Freedom Imperative in Africa’s Democratic Agenda

By Democracy Seminar

  • Africa
  • Democracy
  • Media

May 23, 2022 - 12:00 pm

May 20, 2022

Please join the Democracy Seminar at the New School for Social Research (NSSR), Thoughts and Mace Advisory and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development [CJID] in West Africa, in the inaugural webinar of the Pan-African Media in Democracy Dialogue.

Resetting the Media Freedom Imperative in Africa’s Democratic Agenda asks panelists to get together to properly define an African media agenda for the digital age, offer proposals that will be developed around the outreach strategy for such an agenda, and table suggestions on a masterplan for inclusive mobilization that will ultimately become the beacon of Africa’s democratic aspirations.  

The speakers are joining us from – South Africa (Branko Brkic), East Africa (John Allen and Asha Mwilu), West Africa (Dr. Tobi Oluwatola), and North Africa (TBD). The discussion is moderated by Prof. Jeffrey C. Goldfarb (NSSR).


John-Allan, Investigative Journalist/CEO, Africa Uncensored
Branko Brkic, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Maverick
Dr. Tobi A. Oluwatola, Acting Executive Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development
Asha Mwilu, Founder and Editor at Large, Debunk Media
Eastina Marian Boimadi Taylor, Public Relations Officer, Women In The Media Sierra Leone

Moderated by
Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology Emeritus and chair of the Democracy Seminar, The New School for Social Research


More information about the Pan-African Media in Democracy Dialogue series: 

The glaring landscape of failed governance in the sprawling incidence of poverty and inequality, as well as the development deficit in Africa, compels an urgent reflection and reset of the democratic debates in the region and among its 1.5 billion population.

One of the best case studies of this democratic deficit is in West Africa, where between Senegal and Nigeria, the sub-region has witnessed no fewer than three coup d’états of which three have been successful. What makes these developments worrisome is the fact that they are happening in a sub-region that is perhaps the most diverse, potentially the richest and evidently most populous. Violent extremism, sorry cases of environmental and climate crises, rapacious cases of violence against women and girls, political impunity of all sorts and, of special concern for us, blatant violations of freedom of speech, and of the press. These are no winning credentials for the 21st century for the region where 70% of the population is below 25 years old.

The media, both its legacy and its new social representation, have a major and urgent role to play in reversing these negative trends. For one, within the broad oeuvre of received constitutional norms, the acceptance of the central role of the media in democracy-building assumes their role as the mechanism for promoting accountability, and for effective gatekeeping, but also for agenda setting regarding political as well as development quantities. If Africa must, as it should, own the 21st century, a lot of attention and investment should be poured into the media.

Sadly, this preeminent institution for democracy-building is currently bedraggled by repressive state policy, lack of internal diversity, confronted by constraining statutes but much more fundamentally, an atrophied business model badly in need of an overhaul and reform.

Happily, it is not all doom and gloom. A few opportunities still exist. Emerging technologies can help resolve old market discontinuities, even as they create fresh channels to build opportunities for expanded voices and spaces for deeper engagement. Further, relationships between the media and the autocratic state vary from country to country, as do media responses across the region. Some of them have worked better than others presenting an opportunity for cross-learning. 

Registered attendees will receive the zoom link via email.

Presented by the Democracy Seminar at the New School for Social Research and Thoughts and Mace Advisory and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development [CJID] in West Africa.