Difference Experiences in Journalism Training

By Mira Keßler


Journalism training is an integral part of Media Development (MD). The aim and relevance of such offers is to support the journalists in developing and emerging countries as so-called fourth power of democracy and to build and strengthen democracies with their help. Thus, journalists have a key role to play, which explains the internationally highly promoted journalistic trainings.


The legitimacy and quality of MD is discussed differently. The funds and offers come mainly from the so-called global north, such as the USA, UK and Europe. The receivers are in the Global South, focusing on 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 it is also a question of the awareness of difference experiences and their consideration in the trainings as well of intercultural competence. This dissertation project fits within the described context.


Cross-cultural communication has 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 difference experiences on the negotiation processes of the trainings. Regarding the discourse about the legitimacy and quality of the trainings, the dissertation project aims to investigate the following core questions: When and how could difference experiences become significant and relevant in journalism trainings? How do difference experiences show up in corresponding situations in the training and what are they based on? Are they connected to culture, disregard of locality or postcolonialism? 


In my project I will explore difference experiences in journalism trainings. To understand journalism trainings as part of media development in general, I found one organization based in the global north and one based in the global south. The cooperation also helps me to learn more about the intersection of academic theory and practical application.


My research on difference experiences is pertinent for the MD context of practitioners and theorists. The results will be relevant for the understanding and reflection of difference experiences and their roots. They are also relevant for NGOs both from the global north and the global south and 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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