African vs American Journalism at USF St Pete

10/06/09 Concetta DeLuco
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On Saturday, USF faculty and students met with 17 African journalists from 13 different countries for a weekend-long event at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, to discuss the differences between African and American journalism.

Robert Dardenne is an award-winning journalist and head of the journalism department at USF St. Petersburg. He may seem successful and powerful now, but he’ll tell you that money isn’t the reason people go into journalism. Robert Clark is a journalist for Star Radio. He agrees with Dardenne.

The major similarities end there. Robert Dardenne lives in America. Robert Clark lives more than 8000 miles away in Africa. And Star Radio is in Liberia. But, both Roberts met on common ground at the Vinoy Resort and Golf Club on Saturday. Clark, along with 17 other African journalists from 13 different countries, was invited by the US State Department through the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. Dardenne organized the event. USF St. Pete is one of 11 U.S. university partners of the 2009 Murrow Program. Dardenne, who spent more than 5 weeks in Nigeria, said the biggest difference between American and African journalism is the freedom of press.

Nigerian reporter Emmanuelle Ufuophu-biri agree that reporters face a lot of government opposition in his country. This was especially true during the Babangida regime from 1984 to 1993. Robert Clark, on the other hand, said he is lucky that Liberia has a free press. But Clark said it hasn’t always been that way.

Yet, both Clark and Emmanuelle agree that a little government resistance hasn’t stopped them from doing their job.

It is this kind of oppression that Zimbabwe reporter Loughty Dube said is the one thing he would change about journalism.

In the end, Clark said he thinks all journalists, whether African or American, can agree that the news covers way too many negative issues, and the public is partially to blame.

The last discussion session was held Monday evening and the 17 African journalists will be heading back to their countries this week.

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