U.S. State Department Launches Africa Regional Media Hub in Johannesburg

Filed under: REGIONAL |

Story credit: U.S. State Department official blog

Posted by Mike Hammer, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

November 5, 2012

When asked by a Tanzanian journalist earlier this month about U.S. policy in Africa, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson highlighted the President’s Policy Directive for sub-Saharan Africa and said the United States wants “to develop our friendship with Africa based on mutual respect, mutual interest, mutual responsibility. We want to base it on a partnership and not patronage.”

To this end, in just the last few months, journalists from around the continent have joined U.S. policymakers via the Africa Media Hub to discuss a broad array of topics that include trade, investment, security, health, food security, humanitarian aid, and press freedom. Today, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, addressed journalists while in Nairobi to discuss her second trip to the region and to highlight the United States’ continued commitment to the continent. This is the most recent example of how the Africa Hub continues its efforts to connect African journalists with high-level U.S. officials.

In addition to bringing policy makers and journalists together, the Africa Hub hosts regional training sessions to help provide journalists the skills they need to succeed in incredibly demanding environments. This past week, the Hub partnered with U.S. Mission South Africa to bring 21 journalists from around Africa to Johannesburg, where they participated in an investigative journalism conference aimed at improving the quality of reporting, analysis and opinion-writing. The participants also had the opportunity to meet and engage with prominent media professionals, tour media houses in South Africa, and ask me questions at a press conference.

These are only some of the examples of the great work — and positive impact — that the State Department’s Africa Regional Media Hub does every day. And it is part of the reason I am so pleased to have been in Johannesburg last week to officially launch the Hub in its new location, as we look forward to continued engagement in the region.

The Africa Regional Media Hub is the newest of the Bureau of Public Affairs’ Hubs around the world. Our aim is to communicate U.S. foreign policy directly to international audiences in the languages and mediums they prefer. The Africa Hub helps policymakers deliver messages on regional and global issues to targeted audiences, works with African media outlets to arrange interviews and distributes audio and video content to media throughout the continent.

The Hubs put into practice what Secretary Clinton calls 21st century statecraft — that is, harnessing the networks and technologies of the today’s interconnected world to advance U.S. foreign policy. We are reaching broader, previously untouched audiences throughout Africa and around the globe.

My visit to the region began in Uganda, where I met with over 100 young journalism students from Makerere’s School of Communications and Journalism. I was impressed by their insights and by their passion for ensuring journalistic integrity in a challenging work environment. I was equally inspired as I toured a community school in Kampala’s Kitintale neighborhood, engaged with a vibrant group of journalists who kept me on my toes with their insightful questions, and as I answered questions from callers from the community on Radio Bilal during an evening call-in program. In Kenya, I met with opinion-makers, writers, media owners, and journalists and was impressed with their determination to contribute to the betterment of Kenyan society through their work. Finally, in South Africa, I met with leading Twitterati and visited the African Leadership Academy, whose students represent the bright promise of the continent. I was also able to impress upon government officials the importance of protecting and advancing press freedom. All of these experiences underscored just how dynamic and important Africa is on the world stage.

As our Africa Hub settles into its new location, I am certain it will continue to contribute to the telling of America’s story and forging even better relations between the United States and the continent.

To get in touch with the Africa Regional Media Hub, please e-mail afmediahub@state.gov.

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