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April 2023: Audio Journalism in Africa
This week, we spotlight the impact of audio journalism in Africa in words and pictures
Africa's presence on the global media stage continues. This week, our cofounder Josephine Karianjahi will be heading to Perugia, Italy for the 15th edition of the International Journalism Festival (IJF). This annual gathering of international journalists and media practitioners features global speaker and panelist forums in historic Perugia, which is the capital city of Umbria in central Italy. This is Africa Podfest’s second feature in the IJF program followed by the well-received Podcasting in the Global South panel featuring insights from Africa, Mid-East and Latin America.
The International Journalism Festival will feature two panels on audio and podcasting
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Hard access stories: why audio journalism is the solution
Audio journalism offers a special kind of protection for your sources and jaw-dropping access. This panel will be talking about specific cases and dive into the opportunities & limitations of audio journalism. Feat. Jasmin Bauomy, Phil Maguire, Ramsey Tesdell and Josephine Karianjahi
The Audio Renaissance: The Audience in Waiting
This panel considers the advantages and impact of producing the now familiar podcasts, audio reads for long form stories, and how entire publications are now available to subscribers in audio form.
For Your Ears: This month’s Newsy spotlights audio, podcasting and media makers who will share their views (and listening recommendations!) on audio journalism in Africa. You can follow us on Spotify and listen to the podcast episodes as you go.
By The Numbers
In case you missed our 2022 research, Africa Podfest explored how podcast growth is happening in Africa and featured insights from podcast producers and audiences to inform our findings. We also reviewed the literature on African podcasting and found that the informal media economy in Africa continues to drive most innovation in the space. Special Thanks to our Research Partner, Baraza Media Lab.
As such, audio creators across the continent working on non-fiction podcasts have explored distribution along informal lines - finding their audience on social media platforms like Meta, WhatsApp, Telegram and TikTok to share hard access stories. While podcasting strictly speaking relies on podcast platform distribution, many of those telling hard access stories in Africa use social media to reach wider audiences.
Audio Journalism in Africa: Multimedia Producers Weigh In
Telling Urgent Stories of Consequence
True crime podcasts are a leading reason for the growth of the medium. However, in Africa, where funding and other necessary supports to follow cold cases lags even in the best of circumstances - investigative podcasts are a lifeline for those left to keep the stories of missing persons going. Major African media may provide much needed support to pursue these stories despite the obstacles. James Smart is a Kenyan journalist and media maker with Nation Media Africa.
“The audio-first world already exists in Africa, we understand what it means to be told and paint the pictures ourselves. What we have to do is make sure we urgently tell important stories of consequence. The continent fragility and its strength at the moment needs a home where we all understand each other. And, in my mind the audio world is where most of us can be found.” James Smart, Managing Editor - Newsroom Production, Nation Media Group
Case Number Zero, a podcast by Nation Media Africa
In September 2013 journalist turned blogger Bogonko Bosire disappeared. Because this was not the first time he went ‘missing in action’ his friends and family did not think much of it. They assumed he was pursuing a story. However, they were anxious when he didn’t turn up for days after the country was engulfed in a shocking terrorist attack, the Westgate Mall terror attack. Anxious because this is the kind of story that he would be breaking. #CaseNumberZero is an investigation of Bogonko Bosire’s disappearance, with interviews conducted between 2015 and 2020. The producers speak to friends and family, examining the life of Bogonko Bosire while piecing together clues of what might have happened to him. Listen here (Afripods)
Equipping the Next Generation of Audio Journalists
Kim Fox is a professor of journalism practice at the American University in Cairo. She also founded Podfest Cairo, where Egypt’s podcasters gather to learn and grow their craft. She also produces the award winning Ehky Ya Masr (Tell Your Story Egypt) Podcast, a narrative nonfiction podcast about life in Cairo, Egypt.
Writing about the challenges and chances for African podcasting in the 2021 Cairo Review, Fox noted that Africa may opt for a podcast distribution method that is more convenient which either uses less data consumption and/or distributing audio content via pre-established platforms like messaging apps - a key factor for audio journalists to consider. We interviewed her in Sema Nasi podcast: Nurturing the New Generation of Africa’s Audio Professionals. Listen here
“Hard to access stories are at the core of journalism’s mantra of giving voice to the voiceless. Audio is an ideal platform for those kinds of stories because of its accessibility for all parties involved: the audio maker, the person(s) impacted and the listeners.” Kim Fox, Journalism Professor - American University in Cairo
Audio Journalism As Collaborative Practice
Africa Podfest featured RFI’s Africa Calling podcast in a past Africa Podcast Day celebration. Laura Angela Bagnetto, who worked on Africa Calling reflected on the experience of producing this a twice-monthly podcast taking a more in-depth look at current events in Africa, with sound-rich feature reports covered by RFI correspondents in the field. You can recap the multilingual podcast session she led featuring RFI Kiswahili and Hausa languages correspondents on our YouTube channel
“Audio stories, like oral storytelling, are vital to the African continent – one of the best ways to understand the rich nuances of different cultures, even within one country. As an editor who managed African audio journalists on the continent for RFI’s Africa Calling podcast, I encouraged them to get interviews in local languages so that listeners on the continent and beyond could hear the original voices of the people. One fan of the podcast said he loved hearing the various African accents—they were quite different from his Lagosian one, and he said it brought him closer to the piece.”
Laura Angela also shared her favourite episode:
Nigeria's okada ban, Sudan's mental health, & child gold mining in Zimbabwe: This podcast features three journalists from Nigeria, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and three issues regarding transportation, mental health, and illegal mining. All three were pitched by the journalists on the ground: Listen here
Bearing Witness to Truth
Across Africa, many countries are not safe for LGBT+ individuals. To bear witness to their lived experiences often means audio for your ears only. Ras That Guy features in this episode of the Radio Workshop podcast, which highlights his life. Dhashen Moodley is a narrative journalist in Africa who shared his perspective as a Radio Workshop producer based in S. Africa
“ “Ras That Guy” wanted to tell us a story. But as a transgender man in Zimbabwe, he also wanted to be safe. In this story, he doesn’t share his real name with us. He makes up the names of people in his life. He flies to South Africa to record his narration. But none of that has any impact on how he delivers an honest and moving account of his experiences. His voice is compelling, emotional and inspiring. In too many parts of Africa, LGBT+ youth have to overcome legal challenges, discrimination, and stigmatisation. But at Radio Workshop, we’re opening up a safe space for people from all backgrounds to tell stories that matter. All of that is made possible by audio journalism. “ Dhashen Moodley, Audio Producer, Radio Workshop
Honouring Our Way Of Storytelling
Christine Mungai is Lead Curator at Baraza Media Lab. She is also a writer and journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Since our earliest launch in 2019, Christine has been a tireless supporter of Africa Podfest. Her bylines on women’s economic justice, Kenyan politics and religion in Africa are instructive reading.She recommends BBC Africa’s The Comb podcast. Listen here.
“In my view, audio works well because of its unique combination of intimacy and anonymity. You're hearing someone's actual voice, their tone and cadence, they are a real person through their voice. At the same time, you can't see them, and so that affords some privacy and anonymity especially for sensitive stories. And in the African context in particular, audio works well because of our traditional oral storytelling -- it feels like the natural way to tell a story.” Christine Mungai, Writer, Journalist & Lead Curator - Baraza Media Lab
A Pivot For Investigative Journalism
Paul McNally is a cofounder of Alibi Investigations, which is a S. Africa based investigative podcast unit and training centre. He believes that journalists should produce investigative podcasts in their own languages.
”It's important that Africa doesn't get left behind when it comes to combining quality journalism with the audio boom. The continent has a strong and powerful history of radio stations reporting local news and even though there is a great industry around podcasts being fun and niche, there is also a real opportunity to get the investigative journalism that is already happening in Africa to a wider audience through podcasts. Here is the first episode of the second season and here is a trailer for our upcoming season called Asylum.”
Staying a Key Source of Information for the Public
Audrey Kawire is no stranger to the world of public radio and podcasts. Africa Podfest first encountered her work when she was producing the HRW Power of the Streets podcast. She is now Regional Communications Manager, Africa for Luminate. We asked Audrey what audio journalism means to her.
“As a former radio journalist and podcaster, I’m proud of how audio journalism has evolved and remained a key source of information to the masses in community radio, commercial radio, and podcasts.
I’m re-listening to Vintage or Violence, hosted by Nikissi Serumaga and Bobby Kolade who look at the power imbalances in global trade, and other effects on Uganda’s history as a powerful cotton producer. Check out episode 3: A Degree is an Expensive Receipt to hear the experiences of a young second-hand clothes seller.
I also love Swahili Dishes podcast, a light hearted commentary about the lives of many women in Kenyan cities. Mkamburi Chigogo and Faiza Hemed have the wittiest soundbites, and never miss an opportunity to laugh at themselves. Check out Season 3 Episode 6 for hilarious stories about friendship.”
Highlighting African changemaker voices
Lake Chad is drying up fast. Lake Chad borders four African countries and provides water to over 30 million people. However the Lake Chad Basin covers 8% of Africa impacting agricultural productivity, health and security in the region. Lake Chad basin extends into Nigeria, and Nigerian youth climate change activist Adenike Oladosu is sounding the alarm. Africa Podfest was invited by the Africa Renewal podcast of the UN Department of Global Communications to produce this podcast highlighting the impact of the climate crisis in Africa. Listen to the episode now (UN.org)
“ Audio journalism is an essential arena to amplify the voices of traditionally underrepresented Africans. From working in journalism to citizen contributors to the Africa conversation, audio provides an essential avenue for truth telling, inclusion and amplifying important stories about Africa’s future” Josephine Karianjahi, Cofounder Africa Podfest
The International Journalism Festival will feature panels on African journalism too:
The African Renaissance: how Africans are disrupting and redefining journalism
Shifting journalism narratives: how solutions journalism is changing the African storytelling narrative in four countries
Underreporting and misreporting of queer lives in the Global South media
IJF23 will also feature media makers from across Africa & the African Diaspora:
Ayomide Aborowa, Founder, Irin Travel and Lifestyle Media | Abdi Latif Dahir, East Africa Correspondent, New York Times | Hannah Ajala, Founder, We are Black Journos | Eliza Anyangwe, Managing Editor, As Equals CNN | Josephine Karianjahi, Cofounder, Africa Podfest | Wale Lawal, Founder, The Republic | James Smart, Managing Editor - Newsroom Production, Nation Media Group | Catherine Gicheru, Director, Africa Women Journalism Project | Pam Makotsi Sittoni, Exec Editor Nation Media Group, Trustee of the Kenya Editors Guild | Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Author and Feminist | Caleb Okereke, Editor, Minority Africa | Chibuike Alagboso, Nigeria Lead, Solutions Journalism Africa Initiative | Sharon Atieno, Journalist, Science Africa | Vivianne Ihekweazu, MD Nigeria Health Watch | Daniel Otunge, Deputy ED Science Africa |Vanessa Nakate, Founder, Rise Up Movement
Children’s Podcast Partner Spotlight
Since 2022, Africa Podfest has worked with The LAM Sisterhood and Za Kikwetu Productions on the KaBrazen podcast as the KaBrazen Consortium. The podcast shares bold stories of African women for young listeners and the young at heart in English and Kiswahili. The Consortium is an Ignite Culture Grantee. Listen to new episodes and learn more: www.kabrazen.com
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