Capacity Building is the main objective of AW Free Foundation to break the existing rule and sanitize the media space in sub-Saharan Africa. The foundation focuses on giving the opportunity to journalists and media owners to be trained as professionals and also through fellowships, seminars, workshops and conferences, the media owners, whistleblowers and journalists can draw a clear path toward a free and trustworthy media in Africa.
Why Capacity building?
The main challenge of African media is the problem of bias and professionalism. The demise of formal state-run monopolies did not end media bias so much as spread it around. New broadsheets and radio stations, prone to cater to perceived audience leanings and often owned by politicians and their allies, pushed narrow partisan views.
In the thin advertising markets common in Africa, media enterprises need paid government announcements and other forms of political patronage. Journalists, poorly paid, are easy targets for bribery. Party-dominated media are on full display in Ghana for example. Each of the two main parties has its own set of media outlets to carry salacious and unfounded stories about the sex lives and alleged crimes (including drug dealing) of figures from the other party.
In Cameroon and Tanzania for example, journalists have their own taste for sensational and ad hominem stories, and use of rumor and anonymous speculation as primary sources. In these countries where AfricaWeb has worked as independent media for over 2 decades, the media has the credit for exposing official corruption, but has a tendency to dwell on the doings of big-city politicians to the neglect of broader trends and rural concerns.
As a result, many Africans came to see journalists and media outlets as beholden to political figures and parties, rather than as servants of the public interest. The media seemed full of material that had little to do with most people’s daily lives and concerns.