Differences in Journalism Trainings as part of Media Development

By Mira Keßler


Journalism training is an integral part of Media Development Work (MD). The aim and relevance of such offers is to support the journalists in "developing" and "emerging" countries as "fourth power" of democracy, to build and strengthen "democracies" with their help.


The legitimacy and quality of MD as frame of the trainings are discussed differently. The funds and offers come mainly from the "global north", such as the USA and European countries. The receivers are often in the "Global South", as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This constellation justifies the debate on one-sided directionality, the question of cooperation on equal terms and the dominance of "western" approaches. The criticism of the hierarchical disparity as well as the suspected postcolonial influences justifies the demand that the journalistic further education should be participative, respond specific needs and should consider local differences. Therefor these debates are also a question of the awareness of differences and their consideration in the trainings. This dissertation project fits within the described context.


Differences (as categories and relations) have so far been little reflected or prepared in its practice, even if MD is a work across national and cultural borders. There is a lack of research on the influence of differences on the negotiation processes of the trainings. Regarding the debates about the legitimacy and quality of the trainings, the dissertation project aims to investigate the following core questions: When and how could differences become significant and relevant in the trainings? How do differences show up in corresponding situations and what are they based on? Are they connected to e.g. disregard of locality or postcolonialism?


In my project I am analyzing the trainings and their organizations, one based in the "global north" and one based in the "global south". This practical relevant research and the analyses of practice will also help me to learn more about the intersection of academic theory and practical application.


My research on differences is pertinent for the MD context of practitioners and theorists. The results will be relevant for the understanding and reflection of differences and their roots. They are also relevant for NGOs and other actors in the MD-field and for future policy designs and training curricula. After all, this dissertation project will support networking between practitioners from two different regions.



Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Barbara Thomaß, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Project partners: PANOS South Asia, Radio Natherlands Training Centre



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