The Aga Khan University in Nairobi is positioning itself as a leading trainer of journalists and media professionals in East Africa and beyond through its Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC). The university which has so far established a formidable partnership with foreign institutions of higher learning is quickly earning the hearts of media professionals in the region.
During the ongoing, The East African Communication Association (EACA) Conference, media trainers and scholars drawn from the region have heaped praises on the institution based on the unique approaches it is employing in raising the standards of media training in the region.
The conference themed, ‘Embracing Innovation, Surviving Disruption: New Frontiers for Journalism and Communication’ aims at offering solutions to the challenges that the media sector is currently facing and will interrogate how new technological trends are transforming the sector in East Africa.
Dr. Alex Awiti, Interim Dean at GSMC and Vice Provost, Aga Khan University, East Africa acknowledged that the media and communications sector is facing daunting change in these unprecedented times, as disruption is forcing the sector to constantly innovate in order to remain competitive. “Fake news, digital age, shrinking print circulation, unreeling public, and autocratic, despotic regimes present new dawn, not a peril, for media businesses and the craft of journalism. With these major shifts, legacy and non-traditional media industries must realign their strategies in order to survive,” he said.
The university has partnered with Kennedy School of Government, an institute part of Harvard University as well as a long-standing collaboration with DW Akademie for a project that will work with most media houses in East Africa by promoting innovation, building knowledge, and strengthening the capacity of journalists and media institutions.
The project forms part of a financing and operating partnership between Aga Khan University (AKU), the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Deutsche Welle Academie (DWA), and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).
GSMC’s mission is to foster a diverse, independent, innovative, ethical and economically thriving media and communications sector that contributes to the creation of successful and sustainable societies in an era of technological and social change.
Dr. Wilson Ugangu, President of EACA acknowledged the theme of the conference as timely and relevant considering the transformations the sector is witnessing. “The conference offers an opportunity to consider what is going on, and to seek to build ideas about how to better understand and respond – as academics, researchers and practitioners,” he further added.
There is no substitute for depth and trust. Now more than ever, there is a need for collective responsibility of the spaces that we own and a need to invest in investigative journalism, as the quality of our journalism depends on facts,” said Maurice Makoloo, Director, Ford Foundation, Eastern Africa.
The conference further aims to explore how media organizations are responding to shifts in consumer expectation, investigate the impact of shifting demographics, examine how the sector is adapting to declining profitability and interrogate the capacity of journalism schools in training for a changed and rapidly changing market.
In June 2018, TheGSMC together with The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University graduated 69 students from across Africa of the Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa Programme.
The program is a result of a unique collaboration with Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and marks their first collaboration with a university in the region to offer a leadership course. The program combined the teaching experience of renowned faculty from both Kenya and USA and incorporated seasoned leaders to offer their expertise in dealing with leadership issues. In addition, participants were urged by both faculty and coaches to find solutions to their leadership challenges.
Read also:Aga Khan in Kenya: A network of initiatives touching all aspects of East African economies