By Enoch Sithole

Journalism education in Mozambique faces the challenge of having to adjust to the contemporary needs of the profession, so say two media professionals in that country.

Olívia Massango, information director for media company Sociedade Independente de Comunicação (Soico), told AJENda that the training offered by journalism schools faced several challenges and needs to adjust to present day needs. Soico owns two TV channels, a radio station and a newspaper, and conducts a lot of inhouse training for “better editorial alignment”.

“The media sector is constantly evolving and the development of technologies is pushing it even further. The forms of content production and distribution have gained new approaches that have not yet been satisfactorily followed by educational institutions in the country,” she said. 

            Midialab training manager, Cátia Mangue

The same view was expressed by Midialab’s (ML), training manager, Cátia Mangue, who said “the greatest challenge in the teaching of journalism in the country continues to be the need to combine theory with practise and adapting the curriculum to the dynamics of current newsrooms”.

The main journalism schools in Mozambique are the School of Higher Education and Journalism, the School of Communication and Arts at Eduardo Mondlane University, and the Faculty of Language Sciences, Communication and Arts journalism of the Pedagogical University. There are also non-academic institutions that offer basic training on several journalism subjects such presentation, filming and editing, among others.

Midialab “is a laboratory that prepares trainees to respond to the needs of the journalistic profession in the country, the training provided aims to respond to the need to provide practical skills in the exercise of journalism,” said Mangue.

The organization trains university graduates from any discipline who would like to become journalists. They are generally between the ages of 22 and 28 and have to undergo a rigorous selection process.

Midialab also conducts training on investigative journalism which Mangue said equips trainees with skills to produce “quality content with investigative rigour in the areas of natural resource management and good governance”. 

Mangue said “the ML environment is the replica of a real newsroom, a space in which interns are exposed to various stimuli, test their skills and learn to think outside the box and do journalism”.

ML works with partner institutions and professionals from other countries, such as South Africa, Brazil, the United States, “to guide training sessions and lectures as a way to establish contact between our interns and other realities”. This helps ML in keeping up with “the dynamics of other countries with regard to journalism in practice,” she argued. 

Massango added that the challenges of journalism education in the country could be seen in journalists entering the profession. “Some come with acceptable theoretical knowledge but almost no practical experience. When joining an editorial office, mainly in television the challenge of basic training is enormous. In recent years, some institutions have made investments in order to provide students with practical knowledge and there has been a slight improvement in the quality of the offer to the market.”

She also said journalism recruits lacked reading skills. “Unfortunately, there is little culture of reading in the country and some journalism students finish their courses without having developed a passion for this art. I think that journalism teaching institutions should incorporate, in their curricula, strategies that encourage more reading habits,” Massango added.

Mangue pointed to other challenges facing journalism, including “intimidation by people in power. Journalists are targets of kidnappings, usurpation of material during coverage. We have examples of journalists who have been prevented from working in the coverage of conflict situations in Cabo Delgado, a clear disregard for freedom of expression. Over and over again, content is censored by people who supposedly carry out higher orders.” 

Sexual harassment of female journalists is a common practice and contributes to poor retention of women in newsrooms, said Mangue, adding that “in our learning sessions, issues such as media freedom, ethics, harassment and safety of journalists, are constantly discussed as a way to prepare our trainees for the reality of the labour market and enable them to develop strategies to position themselves in each situation”.