The Holy Spirit is moving in a mighty fashion in the continent of Africa and we need accurate reports of that movement.
World Journalism Institute has seen a great need to export our intensive boot camp program for Christian journalists around the world. Freedom of speech curtailment, harassment and danger confront the Christian journalist wherever he/she labors to report the news factually and verifiably. The institute has received expressions of interest and requests from journalists in Europe, South America and Africa.
More inquiries come from Africa than from any other part of the world outside of the United States. These African journalists are presumably left without solid training in the intersection of their Christian faith and the calling of journalism. By taking the WJI training to them, we can facilitate their growth in reporting and writing from a Christian worldview.
The journalism environment in Africa can be described with several key trends:
1) There is a lack of professional journalism training available for the average African journalist, Christian or not. To my knowledge, there are only a couple of journalism programs which are purposefully Christian on the continent of Africa and these are the Uganda Christian University (www.ucu.ac.ug), which is an Anglican institution, and Daystar University in Kenya (www.daystar.ac.ke) which is broadly Christian.
2) There is a lack of money to train African Christian journalists.
3) There is a lack of harmony between the Christian, Muslim and animistic parts of Africa.
4) There is lack of rigorous theological education for the African Christian journalist.
We propose to mount a program of equipping Christian journalists around the world, beginning in Africa since that is where we see the most interest in such a program. Once we have conducted a successful journalism workshop in Africa, we propose to take the program to Indian, Asia, South America and Europe.
In 2007 we began investigating the possibilities of a multi-week journalism workshop on African soil. We began discussions with Dr. Palmer Robertson of African Bible College. The estimated cost of $50,000 to hold the workshop was prohibitive at the time and so we began a multi-stage strategy.
The first stage was the Belz International Media Fellowship Program (named for Joel Belz) which would bring Africans (and then other non-American Christian journalists) to the U.S. for conferences and workshops. This would give us a core of professional journalism contacts in Africa from which to build an African workshop.
The first Belz Fellows came to the United States in 2009 to attend a WJI conference held in conjunction with the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Tampa, Florida. The second group of Belz Fellows came in 2010 to an NABJ conference in San Diego.
This initial phase is complete, and early in 2012 we plan to go to Africa to hold our first workshop at the African Bible College.
The target constituency for this African journalism workshop is working journalists from throughout the African continent. The workshop will be conducted in English. We plan to train 15 seasoned, hand-picked journalists in this first multi-week workshop. The institute will send a team of American instructors to Africa for two weeks to instruct and mentor African journalists.
The lead instructor for the workshop will be Mindy Belz of WORLD magazine. The lead administrator will be Kimberly Collins, WJI Deputy Director. The instructors and administrators will stay in the African Bible College campus housing along with the students and all will eat on campus together. There will be a closing dinner with an invited speaker.
Follow-up will be undertaken by the institute and WORLD magazine. The graduates of the workshop will return to their news organizations and may also report for WORLD magazine helping create an international journalism staff.