Development Journalism Revisited

Article excerpt

DR. Richard Shafer, professor of journalism at the University of North Dakota sent me this excerpt of his interview with me on December 12, 1985, which was included in his doctoral dissertation at the University of Missouri. At that time, development journalism, perceived as the alternative journalism primarily focused on national development concerns – agriculture, family planning, health and rural development. Originally initiated by government, it reflected the development environment of the Martial Law period. The concept had later evolved with the new information technology, such as the Internet, with its connectivity and capacity to reach and involve a larger public. Among the challenges in our digital age are that of defining the role of the professional journalist vis-à-vis the citizen journalist (the receiver who is at the same time a producer of news; ensuring the survival of traditional media, especially the newspaper; and with the growing pervasiveness of online journalism, mediating global challenges – climate change, cultural and resource conflict, among others.“On development journalism, the participation of non-government organizations – farmers’ labor, and women’s organizations which are providing both process and critical issues to report about, provides hope. Much of development reporting comes from government which explains some of the negative perceptions.A good number of journalists have been coopted by the system. But there are still some community newspapers and radio stations that had managed to rise above the credibility problem.Development journalism is primarily community-oriented journalism. Western-style of journalism has not given much attention to concerns such as bridging the gap between the center and the periphery, which ideally is the function of development journalism. Too, the latter is expected to report about social issues that do not get into the front pages of commercial publications.Western style journalism is primarily investigative and not so much concerned with advocacy. There is a difference between the Western model and our own brand of development journalism, but an attempt could be made to allow their convergence. …