The African Journal (Theafricanjournalonline.com) sheds light on its role as a community newspaper
By Bazona Barnabe Bado | June 8, 2020
On April 11, 2018 “The African Journal” was born. Its online version is Theafricanjournalonline.com. It is a bilingual ( English and French) news outlet. We have a mission to accomplish: “ The freedom to tell our stories, the African diaspora and African -Americans’ stories, to educate our people in America, and in the rest of the world as a community newspaper, and to support in Africa our ‘young’ democracies.” Our primary goal is to cover any event related to African diaspora and minority groups.
The news outlet has a story. The idea of running a community newspaper etched in my mind when I was still a student at a journalism school in New York city. I was also an intern as a journalist in one of the mainstream newspapers in New York. As an intern, I have had the opportunity to cover many events in the city. I was surprised that mainstream news outlets ignored or did not cover at all good news related to African diaspora and minority groups. They talk about us when tears streak down our cheeks and they are muted when we celebrate our success and prowess.
And we have decided to tell our own stories in a positive way. Yeah, telling our stories in a positive way, that is our ultimate goal and we are not going to derail no matter what as we seek truth and report it as the first guiding principle of journalism indicates. What is the truth in journalism? Kelly Mcbride & Tom Rosenstiel in “The News Ethics of Journalism,” put it in that way: “ Truth, at least as it relates to journalism, is not the same as meaning. We might, for instance know who won the election, or even what occurred in a tragic school shooting.” In other words, we have to provide community with accurate information, we need to be honest and fair.
We have quickly learned that our editorial standard, which is to serve a deeply – divided and diverse community by standing for the truth and being non – partisan or neutral, is the most challenging task and a difficult road trip. African diaspora in New York is at a crossroad. The community is marred by useless quarrels of leadership which tests the unity of the sons and daughters of the same continent. The aftermaths of that is that we have a small community with several groups that hate each other. That complicates our job as a journalist who has chosen to be neutral, to serve his community with love and commitment. We find ourselves trapping in the situation describes by Tim Harrower in his book “Inside Reporting”: “Others see the journalism as an inspiring quest for free speech, an endless power struggle between Authority trying to control information, and The People trying to learn the truth.”
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We wanted to end that editorial by paraphrasing Kelly Mcbride & Tom Rosenstiel saying that we want to engage our community by making an ongoing effort to understand the needs of our community we seek to serve and create robust mechanisms to allow members of our community to communicate with us and one another.
Bazona Barnabe Bado