Telling another Story about Africa and MENA with Impact Journalism Day

Monday, June 20
Sparknews, Africa - MENA

What does an average reader know about poverty and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa and the MENA region? Usually, just enough to feed the common narrative that these parts of the world need external help to lift themselves out of poverty.


Bringing Different News to the World

Who has heard of the Tanzanian rats that sniff out Tuberculosis and landmines, the Egyptian Harrass Map, the Ugandan banana paper, or the Moroccan NGO Dar Si Hmad that transforms fog into drinkable water?


Thanks to Impact Journalism Day, millions of newspaper readers on every continent have been exposed to articles that feature these impactful initiatives and many others. One of the primary reasons why Impact Journalism Day was founded was to highlight stories that never make the headlines because they can’t compete with the urgency of bad news or catastrophes. And there are many such stories in Africa and MENA. We are proud to say that Impact Journalism Day is helping change perceptions of everyday life in these regions, as seen from Japan, Russia, Mexico, France and tens of other countries.


Middle East and North Africa: Strong Ties

Our relationships in the MENA region, for the most part, have been long lasting. Old timers include Al Hayat, the pan-arab leading newspaper, L’Orient le Jour, El Watan, l’Economiste and La Presse, the four French language publications in Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and Al Masry Al Youm, the leading independent newspaper in Egypt. Each of these papers brings in specific stories and approaches to solutions journalism, with emphasis on local issues and societies.


It wasn’t always easy for the editors in these countries to convince their newsrooms that these kind of stories were worth the time but luckily, these feelings have changed. Meriem Oudghiri from l’Economiste recently told us over the phone that “now they all understand and they spontaneously find the right kind of subjects.” All these papers are proud of the fact that they are helping their readers discover replicable solutions to local problems and giving local projects international visibility.


Also, this year our partnerships includes two newcomers in the region: Haaretz English, in Israel and T24 in Turkey. Being represented in both these countries was important to the team, to reflect how diverse the region is. In the case of Turkey, finding an independent partner was particularly challenging, despite our strong desire to see this large and culturally significant country be represented.


Sub-Saharan Africa Boasts 12 Partners

The challenges we faced in sub saharan Africa, were not linguistic, since most countries speak English or French. Our main difficulty was just the number of potential countries to target! So far, the alliance is growing, in part thanks to the long term involvement of core countries like South Africa (City Press), Uganda (The Monitor), Nigeria (The Nation) and Brukina Faso (L’Economiste du Faso). Their interest, as always, is twofold: joining an elite circle of flagship publications and giving their readers something new.


As Charles Odoobo Bichachi, Managing Editor at The Monitor reflected: “Impact Journalism takes the media away from lamentation to highlighting solutions about our everyday issues. It has the power to bring together those seeking solutions and those thinking about solutions.” Moreover, during very interesting discussions at our yearly seminars, he mentioned that local governments had been inspired to replicate solutions seen in Impact Journalism Day, and that he would be inclined to follow up on the next steps. New stories are in the making.


Newer partnerships, that have been consolidated this year and continue to grow, are partners like L’Express (Madagascar), Fraternité Matin (Ivory Coast), Le Messager (Cameroun), Les Dépêches de Brazzaville (RDC and Congo), le Soleil (Senegal) and Les Echos du Nord (Gabon). We look forward to continuing to understand how we can deepen our ties.


Check out your favorite participating newspaper on June 25th to read stories about people changing the world.


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