Student journalists attached to the Highway Africa Conference Open Source newspaper yesterday held their breath as they waited nervously for the 17th edition of the conference to begin this morning. This team is testament to the fact that print is not dead—yet!
The continent’s top journalism practitioners, academics and supporters of all kinds have descended on Grahamstown to speak on this year’s theme: Speaking Truth to Power: Media, Politics, & Accountability.
The two days starting today look set to be busy with workshops and discussion platforms and Open Source was yesterday gearing up to capture every minute of it.
Babalwa Nyembezi, Open Source Production Manager, said she was standing on the edge rallying her teammates on as they prepared to cover the continent’s biggest journalism conference.
“This is my third Highway Africa Conference,” she said, “And I’m really excited. The theme of the conference is spot on at this time in Africa. I find it a continuation of last year’s theme, Africa Rising. So our role, as the media, in Africa is also rising.”
For the student journalists, the mood is a mixture of excitement, terror and anxiety. It’s a sign of things to come for the future of journalism that the OS newsroom now has writers, videographers, podcasters, and other producers of new media techy-thingys.
“It started off a bit disorganised and it is very high paced and I am interested to see how this conference pans out,” said Nicola Poulos, one of the Open Source designers.
The theme of this year’s conference has garnered a lot of opinions in the academic realm and even amongst the staff at Rhodes’ journalism department
“The theme is very relevant, alive and adds a robust dimension,” Annetjie van Wynegaard, the social media manager of Highway Africa, said.
Student journalist, Relebone Myambo, podcaster for Open Source, was nervous and excited.
“I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t really have much guidance, but I know what is going on now,” she said, “I didn’t get a T-shirt though so I kind of feel like the odd cousin at Christmas, but I hope it will feel better tomorrow.”
With two days of schmoozing the delegates, attending workshops, and producing rich and insightful content, the newsroom has much a tear-drop and fist fight awaiting it.