BARUA YA BARAZA: Short Film Grant and Every Brilliant Thing From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings, friends:

This week’s newsletter is continuing the tradition of inviting members of our community to write From The Curator’s Desk, and for this edition, I’m happy to hand it over to Sameer Padania of Macroscope; he’s an independent media advisor on strategy and funding for public interest media. I promise I haven’t paid him to write this newsletter – you’ll see why below!

Please send your guest writing pitches for this section to chris@barazalab.com if you’re interested in being our guest curator on the newsletter, and you have something of interest to share to our community — a trend you’ve noticed or something you’d like us to think about. 

~ Christine

Last week, at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, I experienced every panel moderator’s dream moment of watching while a panellist leans forward to their microphone, and proceeds to set the event on fire. That panellist was, of course, Christine Mungai of Baraza Media Lab, and while each of her interventions on our panel about ‘Decolonising Media Development’ was met with applause and even cheers from the standing-room-only crowd (watch the video, I’m not exaggerating), her verbal Molotov came with four simple words – “Money is not knowledge”… A seemingly simple observation, but one that encapsulates and upends a power dynamic that has been allowed to persist for far too long, and that even ended up being quoted by the august Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in their round-up of the stand-out moments of the Festival.

Call it what you want – decolonisation, localisation, Shift The Power, the Paris Agenda – but it’s a dynamic we’re all familiar with – and in the media development field, it is moving at a far slower pace than in other parts of civil society (who are much more vocal about it than we are, as this week’s Open Letter from #ShiftThePower shows). I’ve long wanted to convene a discussion on this, and a heartfelt thank you to our remarkable panellists—Christine, of course, alongside Lina Attalah of Mada Masr in Egypt, Nishant Lalwani of IFPIM, and Mira Milosevic of GFMD—for their insightful contributions to this important and urgent conversation.

As an independent consultant and analyst, I work on trying to improve both the amount of funding available directly to Global South peers, and how and on what terms it is provided. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been asked to dig deeper into what’s not working in the way media development happens now, and what it could look like in the future. I encountered a huge amount of frustration, and real impatience, at the way money is supposed to flow, but actually only trickles, from the Global North to the Global South. Echoing Christine’s words, one editor said “it always feels like someone else’s money, on someone else’s priorities.” 

But there’s a linked issue we didn’t get to discuss as much on the panel. In 2023 I wrote a report on media festivals in the Global South – Media Party in Argentina, Festival 3i in Brazil, Splice Beta in Thailand, and Baraza’s own Africa Media Festival in Kenya. In that report I argue for a shift in what we think of as global or international media. The global discourse on journalism and media innovation has predominantly been led by voices and examples from the Global North, particularly in the English language and from the USA and UK. What we have been led to think of as good journalism, as relevant business models, or as professional journalistic standards and approaches, has been almost by default what is happening in New York or London.

While many of the values Global North journalism and media espouse are also shared by their fellow public interest media in the Global South, what we’ve found (and what many already know) is that the experiences of Global South media are far more typical of the conditions faced by media globally than those in the (sadly) diminishing number of strong and resilient Global North democracies.

This isn’t a trivial point. I’m arguing that what we call ‘global’ should be what is experienced by those in the Global South, because it is simply more representative of global realities. In another part of my work, as a Visiting Fellow on Cities and Information Inequality, at the German Marshall Fund, the same dynamic is clear – if the things you’re looking at don’t work in Global South cities, they’re not really global.

Multiple structural barriers still exist that impede those with deep expertise in the Global South from being able to talk about media in a global context, rather than just from their own country’s perspective (and to be paid as global experts). In the same way, events in the Global South are just as global and representative (if not even more so) than ones in or curated by the Global North. Of course these conversations can be uncomfortable, and we need to act with care, but delay is not an option, and nor is trying to suppress the debate, for, as Octavia Butler said “The very act of looking ahead to discern possibilities and offer warnings is in itself an act of hope.”

Thanks to Chris Potter, Arianna Ciccone and the IJF team for helping us bring this conversation into one of the world’s most prestigious spaces for talking about the future of journalism. Watch the conversation here, it’s worth your time, I promise! I’d love to hear what you think, you can reach me on Twitter – my handle is @sdp.

In the meantime, here’s:
What I’m Reading: After all that serious journo talk in Perugia, I need to escape into a different time and place, so I am reading Alchemy, the latest in S. J. Parris’ Giordano Bruno series, set in Prague in the year 1588.

What I’m Watching: I’ve been dying to share these Instagram accounts with a discerning audience, and there’s no more discerning audience than you folks… I’m not an ASMR guy, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I have watched the mesmerising cooking videos by Turkish creator black sea adventurer (headphones on!); and the account crisis.acting is like nothing else out there – periodic posts featuring 10 mysterious slides from the frontlines of human experience.

What I’m Listening to: I accidentally came across NTS Radio during the pandemic, and it has literally changed my life. Algorithm-free, beautifully curated, relentlessly surprising. Where else can you jump from Malaysian funk of the 1970s to Cairo hiphop to acoustic biology to Haitian Twoubadous

My best to all your senses,

Sameer Padania | Macroscope

AFRICA MEDIA FESTIVAL POST FESTIVAL REPORT

We’re pleased to unveil the official report from the second Africa Media Festival (AMF). This year’s “solutions-first” approach fostered a collaborative spirit as we tackled pressing issues with our incredible community. After months of reflection and analysis, the report captures the essence of those insightful discussions, offering a rich resource of key takeaways for anyone invested in what lies ahead for Africa’s media. Download your copy here

BARAZA EVENTS

World Press Freedom Day

In honor of World Press Freedom Day, Baraza Media Lab is hosting a powerful panel discussion exploring the intersection of media freedom and environmental journalism. This event promises insightful conversation with a diverse panel of experts, delving into the critical role a free press plays in tackling climate change. Expect discussions on responsible reporting practices, opportunities for journalist-environmentalist collaboration, and a powerful photography exhibit highlighting the environmental crisis. Secure your spot and join the conversation.

Date: 2nd May 2024

Register to attend here.

Rafinki Open Mic

Mark your calendars! Rafinki and Baraza Media Lab are thrilled to invite you to a celebration of Beauty in Diversity at the next Rafinki Open Mic on Friday, May 10th. This year’s opening edition features the talented poet Keith Malenga, whose soul-stirring verses are sure to leave a lasting impression. Rafinki Open Mic embraces the Beauty in Diversity by welcoming poets and poetry enthusiasts from all walks of life to share their voices on our stage.

 

Date: 10th May 2024

Register to attend here.






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