HUYE – A four day international roundtable on radio as it impacts on convergence with other forms of media opened yesterday. “Radio and convergence of other forms of media is a fast evolving field in Africa.
Radio is almost universal and we want to find out what kind of research is being done to understand the implications of this convergence,” said Chaitali Sinha, a program manager at Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
Media managers, researchers, trainers and communication specialists drawn from different countries in Africa, Canada and England are expected to develop a concept paper out of this meeting to be fine tuned by Mary Myers; a development communications consultant.
This will be launching pad to gather different experiences.
Chaitali added: “After the roundtable we want to develop a set of research priorities as informed by this group.
We will have developed after this meeting a better sense of what the priorities are here in Africa, coming from African voices.”
She said that radio as a form of media has too often and for too long been seen as a leading source of information and by extension as the entry point for the information to society.
“But in the last 3 to 4 years with the mobile phone explosion in Africa, with internet taking up minimum but increasing levels of accessibility, we are interested in looking at radio or internet as stand alone tools that people use on their own in a way that complements such systems.
We are interested in looking at the social effects that these technologies are having on people,” said Chaitali.
Mary Myers, a development communications consultant said that the concept paper being debated shows how central radio is to the development of Africa.
“And when we look at how to communicate radio must be absolutely central to it.
The point about this roundtable is to see what we don’t know, what needs to be researched, as well as looking at the impact, relevance and importance of media to development,” she added.
Professor Allan Thompson from Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication and director of the centre for media and transitional societies said that his university will administer the research program.
“This will add to the discussion about the nexus between radio and the new tools.
In this we will closely look at how these new applications will converge with the power of radio,” said Thompson.