Aware of the potential role of the press in strengthening the democratic development in Africa, and in accordance with the Declaration of Windhoek on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press (1991), the UNESCO Independent Press project, is design to strengthen the human and technical capacities of the press in Africa, to enable it to effectively contribute to the processes of national development, good governance and democracy.
The project aims to reach these objectives by improving the quality of media output through training, by increasing access to the media through the reinforcement of media facilities especially new technologies, and the support of ethical practices of journalism agreed upon by the media professionals themselves.
Several workshops and seminars have been organised so far and covering such practical areas as desk-top-publishing, the management of small and medium sized media institutions, basic and advanced journalism courses, internet and email usages as well as communication, good governance. Several newspapers have so far benefited from UNESCO’s assistance.
Today, the priorities are still the lack of professionalism, which is evident mainly in writing, photographic techniques, unfamiliarity with professional ethics, poor management of press companies, lack of appropriate advertisements in newspapers and the absence of specialized writing dealing with such issues as environment, education, health and development.
The project plans in the future to:
Organize professional training activities;
Provide appropriate equipment and technical training;
Create a database on the African Press;
Encourage the development of newspapers;
Assist journalists’ practitioners in defining the framework for the exercise of the profession in order to strengthen its credibility;
Encourage governments to create a conductive political, economic, tax and legal environment for the long-term viability of the press.