At African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) we believe that there is nothing African, Asian, American, or European about good journalism. While the contexts within which it is practiced may be different, and may indeed inform the final product, good journalism shares many characteristics that have universal appeal.
- Good journalism does not merely inform, it provides information that has meaning for people’s lives.
- It provides information that is significant and relevant.
- It offers context and perspective.
- It explains issues and helps to educate and enlighten audiences.
- It offers analysis and depth.
- It provides a civic forum that both informs and engages the public.
- It drives public debate on the issues of the day, including rarely discussed subjects that affect people’s lives.
- It asks the right questions and provides a forum through which they can be answered.
- It is credible and authoritative.
- It upholds the value of diversity.
- It is truthful and accurate.
- It is fair and impartial.
- It is independent (from vested interests, be they political or commercial).
- It is enterprising.
- It is interesting.
What it Takes
A good understanding of the institution(s) or communities you cover. How do they work? What are the key processes? What is the jargon of the institutions? What is the language of the community? Who are the key players? What are the ‘other voices’ that are rarely covered?
Cultivating human sources in the institution(s) or community; having a diverse source base.
Understanding the other potential sources of information, including documentary evidence.
A willingness to go beyond official institutions e.g. Parliament, City Hall, the Police to the community. What are the key concerns of the community? Is it crime, defilement, poor roads, lack of electricity, or all of the above? What is the central government and/or local authorities doing about them? What are the other stakeholders doing about them?
An inquisitive mind.
A broad, all-round education.
A multi-disciplinary understanding of issues.
A love of current affairs.
Enterprise and creativity.
A good command of language.
Continuing training and education.
A willingness on the part of media managers/owners to invest in good journalism.