Where is Africa in the Australian media?

23 September 2010

Thomas Mukoya will share his trials and triumphs of telling African stories in the global media.
Thomas Mukoya will share his trials and triumphs of telling African stories in the global media.

Is there Africa-fatigue among western media with regard to African stories of war and conflict? And how does a photojournalist strive to maintain the dignity of his subjects while knowing that heart-rending pictures are the ones that the media want?

Thomas Mukoya, a prominent photojournalist in Africa, has extensive experience photographing Africa's humanitarian crises and the lives that have been blown apart by conflict and insurrection. He deals with ethical issues such as these on a regular basis.

In a moderated discussion with Joel Negin, lecturer in international public health at the University of Sydney, Mukoya will share his experiences in the trials and triumphs of telling African stories in the global media.

"In general there are not many African stories told in the Australian media," explains Negin, "and generally the stories that are told are stories of violence and corruption, very negative stories, or sometimes animal interest stories."

"I think there's a lot more to be told about Africa that could be examined in the Australian media."

In a media landscape that is becoming increasingly indifferent to African news stories, Mukoya is faced with the challenge of tailoring stories for both local East African and western audiences, as well as finding an interest for more positive news stories from the region.

His presentation, titled Telling African Stories in the Media, is part of the Sydney Ideas public lecture series and is co-presented with Australia for UNHCR. It will feature an introduction by the organisation's National Director, Naomi Steer.

Currently in the role of Pictures Editor for East Africa at Thomson Reuters, the world's largest international news agency, Mukoya is also the Secretary of the Photojournalists' Association of Kenya (PAK), as well as working extensively with humanitarian organisations such as MSF, UNICEF, UNHCR and Australia for UNHCR.

"Thomas has covered the gamut of the best of Africa and some of the more challenging aspects, and I think that diversity will be really interesting to see how a reporter can respond to these challenges," says Negin.

"There is opportunity for greater thinking about what African stories are and how to tell them to Australian media who are not particularly savvy about African issues," he says.

Mukoya was part of the Reuters pictures team that covered the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

He has travelled widely across Africa, covering breaking news and feature stories from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Comoros, Djibouti, Malawi and South Africa.

Event details

What: Telling African Stories in the Media - a moderated discussion with Thomas Mukoya for Sydney Ideas, the University of Sydney's international public lecture series, presented in association with Australia for UNHCR

When: 6.30pm, Monday 27 September

Where: Seymour Centre, corner of City Road and Cleveland Street, Chippendale

Cost: $20, concession $15. Free for University of Sydney staff, students and alumni (University ID or alumni card required)

Bookings: 9351 7940 or the Sydney Ideas website

Media enquiries: Sarah Stock, 9114 0748, 0419 278 715,