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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Workshop advocates quality multimedia contents

Participants at a three-day workshop recently concluded in the city of Dakar, Senegal, have called for the development of quality multimedia contents on the continent and particularly for the West African region.

Workshop participants drawn from over nine countries on the continent, brain stormed on the importance of web tools for communication, democratisation, governance and development.

The development of quality multi-media contents on blogs was highly recommended as they advised bloggers to seek autonomous platforms for hosting of their blogs so as to operate independently of the push-to-publish platforms, which may come up with terms that would not suit the bloggers.

They also considered the role of media for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use and skills acquisition as well as the importance of civil society and media for online content production, raising concerns over the innovative uses of digital communication technologies in Africa for development.

In a communiqué made available to Champion Infotel, participants recommended that journalists, media support organisations, public decision makers, civil society in general and other stakeholders should embrace Web 2.0 among other ICT issues facing the media.

They acknowledged an improved role awaits the media within the Information Society based on the implementation of strategies capable of integrating rising profile of citizen journalism with regard to professional journalism.

The workshop also called for the development and support for online ICT journalism by encouraging the creation and strengthening of national and regional journalist networks in the ICT sector.

They equally advocated for the organization of local training sessions on Web 2.0 tools aimed at journalists and gender aspect into consideration as well as the creation of follow-up and capacity building mechanisms for media practitioners on regular basis.

An improved involvement of media practitioners in the promotion and appropriation of ICT tools was advocated, while a call for strengthening strategies towards fostering journalists access to ICTs.

Additionally, the workshop called for advocacy campaigns to elaborate and harmonize legal texts governing media in West Africa so as to ensure improved freedom of expression in the region.

Participants further recognised the import of Web 2.0 to the civil society, pointing out that it would enhance implementation of their activities.

“The organization of training sessions especially designed for civil society in order to strengthen its skills concerning Web 2.0,” the communiqué stated, urging Panos Institute West Africa and partners to develop manuals about Web 2.0 tools.

The workshop with the theme: ICT and new media technologies, was organised by PIWA with financial support of OSIWA, Freevoice, DFID, NOVIB, DGIS and in collaboration with Penplusbytes and Senelogic associations.

More so, general recommendations were made concerning citizen journalism being guided by a stronger sense of ethics, to avoid drifts, such as misinformation and drawing-up policy implementation strategies that are consistent in order to develop universal access to ICTs in West Africa and beyond

The workshop pointed out that innovative implementation of infrastructure and alternative solutions for access to and use of ICTs would strengthen fixed infrastructure and campaigned for the creation of universal access to ICT funds especially aimed at disadvantaged regions and citizens.

Participants emphasised that strengthening of regulatory authorities by enthroning independence with level playing field, have proved efficient, just as they called for active involvement of civil society and media representatives within the supervisory boards of these organs.

“They will also take into account the issues at stake regarding convergence, and better integrated public concerns and promote multi-stakeholder partnership in the implementation of ICT policies,” the communiqué read.

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