Sunday 4 May 2014

The Future of News

Here's a piece I wrote for The New Africa on the recent Future News 2014 event in Glasgow. It was really great to be there. Two years ago I had the original idea and rallied a group of stakeholders to get it off the ground. Events intervened and I was unable to continue my involvement through to the end. I really appreciated it that the other partners didn't forget me and invited me to be there. Future News 2014 was a seriously impressive operation and deserves to become a regular fixture on the calendar.

Reporting Africa’s Future

Ten aspiring journalists from Africa travelled to Glasgow to take part in the prestigious Future News event. They joined a hundred other young people from the Commonwealth for an intensive programme of news training and networking.

“The future of Young Africa is to reclaim the dignity and glory of Africa. As journalists we will have the job of showing that our continent is not a place for pity, but a place of empowerment.”

So said Baxolise Mfidi, a 19 year-old student journalist from South Africa, as he completed the Future News programme in Glasgow. Mfidi was one of a 100 young reporters from the across the Commonwealth who took part in this unique event. 

Future News 2014 is part of the cultural programme for this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Participants aged between 16 and 19 have been busy on a packed schedule of lectures, workshops, visits to media houses and the sporting venues for the Commonwealth Games. Every delegate was given their own tablet computer so that they could begin their digital reporting immediately.

The African participants come from Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Mauritius and Zambia. They won their places in competitions organised by the British Council in their home countries. 

The delegates had lots of opportunities for networking. They heard from industry heavyweights such as Reuters Managing Editor Paul Ingrassia, BBC anchor James Naughtie, Chris Roper editor of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, as well as a range of editors and correspondents from newspapers, radio, television and online news services. Kelebogile Mojanaga from South Africa said:

“The quality of the speakers was so high. They not only knew what they were talking about but they had real passion. It was inspiring for us to see successful people in the industry with such commitment to the values of journalism.”

The participants were encouraged to ask questions and promote lively discussions on all aspects of journalism including ethics and press freedom. Rogério Marques Benedito Junior from Mozambique said: 

 “My entire perspective on journalism has changed. It made me realise that journalists have a much bigger role and can really benefit society as a whole.”

The group visited the BBC Scotland studios, Scottish TV, Capital Radio and the Herald printing plant. They were also treated to insider tours of the Chris Hoy Velodrome and Celtic Park which will   be centrepieces of this summer’s Commonwealth Games. All through the activities the delegates filed reports, pictures and footage for the Future News website. 

A poll of delegates confirmed that the vast majority are now even more passionate about following a career in journalism. Tiyah Chirwa from Malawi is returning with a renewed mission:

“In Malawi journalists are badly paid and not respected. This week has empowered us. We have learned that there is a lot more to journalism than people see.”

Future News is a continuing project. After leaving Glasgow the delegates will continue reporting on the Future News website and will be able to call upon professional mentoring online. When the Commonwealth Games begin in July there will be a dedicated young people’s newsroom in Glasgow and a series of virtual newsrooms across the Commonwealth. The delegates will be able to practise their reporting live with access to all the news feeds from the Games.

Future News is a collaboration between Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, The Herald and Times Group, The British Council, Thomson Reuters and Tinopolis Interactive.

The students’ work can be seen on the Future News portal here at 

You can see a short video about the virtual newsroom here at

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