Changing the way news and stories about Africa are told

Posted by Catherine Mackie

The moment you see your byline next to a story is a magical moment for any journalist. It brings with it a sense of relief, pride and hope that you’ll get noticed. 

A fantastic opportunity is now being offered for journalists writing about and in Africa to get noticed, to see their story published and get paid for it.  

But for that to happen, they need to shift their thinking and approach: to drop the stereotypes and start telling new stories.  

The idea has come from Africa No Filter and the bird – African Stories Agency who aim to shift the traditional narratives about Africa, away from stereotypes. They want stories that bring a fresh approach to storytelling, where missing voices are heard and the needs of audiences play a central role. 

To help facilitate that change the Thomson Foundation is offering a unique online training course called African Stories: A guide for journalists on how to tell better stories about Africa.   

As Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter (ANF), explains: “If journalists want to remain current, they need to up their skills and write what their audience wants to read.”  

Tips and Techniques

The course offers expert advice from African journalists who guide participants through that process of how to change the narrative. There are tips and techniques from finding missing voices and feature writing, to practical help with in demand skills such as mobile journalism and multi-platform storytelling. 

Help on sourcing new stories comes from the renowned Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who covers his face to protect his identify.  

“We don’t have to restrict our sources, especially in our part of the world, to official channels only,” says Anas. “There are many other unofficial channels that we can use.” 

Dr Njoki Chege who’s the director of the Innovation Lab at Aga Khan University is among the experts. She explains why change is needed. “Some of the voices that have been missing [from news stories] are young people, minorities and women and we’ve been hearing only one side of the story.” 

Chance to pitch story

Once participants have completed the course, they will receive a certificate and be able to pitch their story to the bird story agency. 

“By taking this course, journalists will be part of a pivotal change taking place in African journalism which looks to offer a new style of storytelling, changing the one-dimensional narrative by which Africa is too often portrayed,” says Deborah Kelly, Director of Training and Communications at Thomson Foundations. 



 Top illustration: Michelle Thompson


Catherine Mackie

Catherine Mackie

Training and Communications Editor

About: Catherine is responsible for designing training programmes for Thomson Foundation and has been a senior journalist for more than 30 years.

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