by Lindsay Boyle
In recent years, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the African Studies Program at Ohio University have gradually expanded their collaboration with each other. To showcase that expansion, the two groups have decided to hold a “Year for African Journalism” during the 2012-13 school year.
The abstract program aims to capitalize on a noticeable increase in student interest in Africa by teaching students more about African journalism. It will do so primarily by bringing two prominent African media scholars to the OU campus — one during Fall Semester and one during Spring Semester. Additional events and conferences will be held as well.
One major part of the Year for African Journalism is that Ernest Waititu will be the Glidden Visiting Professor during Fall Semester. Waititu is an OU alumnus who participated in the graduate programs of both the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the African Studies Program from 2003 to 2006, obtaining master’s degrees in both. He is currently the program director of health and digital media at Internews in Nairobi.
Internews is a U.S. government-supported NGO that provides training for journalists throughout Africa and has a goal of promoting freedom of expression. In addition to his work with that organization, Waititu founded an online news digest called Afrikanews, and has contributed to various publications in Kenya.
When he was a student at OU, he covered international news for the Athens News and was able to obtain an internship at CNN. Recently, Waititu hosted a workshop for East African journalists at his Internews offices. The workshop focused on health issues, taught techniques in digital journalism and archival research, and encouraged discussion about ethics and other contemporary issues.
As the Glidden Visiting Professor at OU, Waititu will teach the Foreign Correspondence course, and will assist with International Media Systems course lectures. He will also deliver a public lecture about his work at Internews.
Waititu will have many additional responsibilities. He will offer students advice about international opportunities. He will assist members of the African Studies Program and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism’s Institute for International Journalism with creating and launching the Scripps College of Communication’s New African Media for Social Change conference. Finally, Waititu will help plan the annual IIJ study abroad program, which will ideally take place in Ghana during the 2013-14 school year.
For Spring Semester, Kojo Yankah has agreed to come to OU for the African Studies Program’s West African Research Association Residency. Yankah, who has established himself as a prominent and award-winning media figure in West Africa, has also been a minister in the government of Ghana, and is the founder and president of the African University College of Communication (AUCC). Additionally, Yankah has established his own marketing communications consultancy, Yankah and Associates, is currently a fellow of the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana, and has spent time as its president in the past.
Collaboration between AUCC and OU has increased in recent years with the hope of educating more OU students in communications-related majors about Africa. In the past, OU President Roderick McDavis has given a commencement speech at AUCC, and senior E.W. Scripps School of Journalism faculty member Dr. Ralph Izard has taught classes there. Additionally, the two universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding when Yankah visited the OU campus in August of 2011.
During his month-long residency, Yankah will host a public lecture series about African media issues, which will be streamed on multiple university-related websites. He will also speak to Scripps College of Communication student organizations, sit for interviews with student journalists, speak with local media about African economic and political progress, and be interviewed for the West African Research Association Bulletin.
The Glidden Visiting Professor is hosted by the African Studies Program and by the IIJ. Those organizations will combine to pay for event hospitality and incidentals for Waititu. The West African Research Association residency is sponsored by the African Studies Program, which provides housing for Yankah during his residency.
The IIJ strives to prepare students to work as international journalists and to increase overall international communication. The African Studies Program at OU is one of 10 National Resource Centers for African Studies in the U.S.