"What Makes the Coffee Sweet?"
Opening session tonight: Eric Newton from the Knight Foundation set the stage. The Bad News? Press freedom has suffered some reversals in recent years, and many institutions have been slow to catch on to the importance of digital media. The Good News? Fresh evidence that people esteem "fair, accurate and contextual" information -- and are acquiring the tools of the digital age to promote it.
Amadou Ba followed with the keynote speech. It was great to see the founder of www.allafrica.com in person. (He's now the acting director of the African Media Initiative.) African media is surging ahead -- but there's still a tremendous amount to be done, especially in the areas of management and finance. Members of the audience lamented the media situation in Zimbabwe, and worried about Guinea. They wondered about the direction of digital media in Africa, and reminded each other that community radio is still of enormous importance on the Continent.
Ba pointed to the new African Leaders Media Forum as a promising development. http://www.amlf2009.org/
"What makes the coffee sweet?" he asked the audience, "the sugar -- or the act of stirring the sugar? What makes democracy? Holding elections, or having media that can stir the pot constructively?"