Main venue of the "Stand Together to Overcome Difficulties" China-Africa Media Webinar on Combating COVID-19 hosted by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) on June 3, 2020. [Photo by Dong Ning/China.org.cn]
The "Stand Together to Overcome Difficulties" China-Africa Media Webinar on Combating COVID-19 was held on June 3, hosted by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and jointly organized by CIPG Training Center and China Internet Information Center (China.org.cn).
Twelve press officials and senior media workers from the nine countries of China, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda shared experiences under the theme of "strengthen China-Africa cooperation and pool the media's anti-epidemic efforts worldwide." All those participating agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought both challenges and opportunities. In the future, Chinese and African media will seek closer cooperation and develop a robust friendship between the two peoples.
Fang Zhenghui, vice president of CIPG, pointed out that the management of major public health emergencies requires joint efforts from the international community in communication, cooperation and information sharing. This imposes greater demands on international communication for all countries. Media workers need to clarify their mission and responsibilities in the global fight against COVID-19 and thus enhance China-Africa communication and cooperation. They should serve as "watchtowers" for society, so as to share higher-value information more efficiently; as "stabilizers" for the public, so as to unite the people in fighting the disease; and as "bridges" between the peoples of China and Africa, so as to promote the joint building of a shared future for the two sides.
Abdul Karim Naatogmah, manager in charge of communication and media relations at the Ghanaian National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), pointed out that the COVID-19 outbreak has created a global health crisis which has deeply impacted the world's economy, and the African continent in particular. During the pandemic, the media should fulfill its responsibilities to release important news, disseminate public health information, supervise and track epidemic control measures, correct epidemic-related information, and build a media-cooperation platform to jointly fight COVID-19.
Slesor Ebane Kome , divisional delegate of communication for Meme Division of the Cameroonian Ministry of Communication, said that her previous exchanges and study in China had deepened her understanding of the status of Chinese media development and its trends. She suggested that the Chinese and Cameroonian media should increase the sharing of information and cooperate more extensively through international platforms and people-to-people exchanges. Together, the two sides will contribute to fighting COVID-19 and building a community of shared future. She believes that only when the international community unites will mankind finally overcome the pandemic.
Li Jianguo, associate editor-in-chief of Beijing Review, spoke about stories and reports of the two people's fight against COVID-19 published in ChinaAfrica monthly magazine, and expounded on the positive role of Chinese media in epidemic control. He believes that faced by the epidemic, media outlets should prioritize humanistic values and care in their reports, tell stories of unity and cooperation between China and Africa, and boost the confidence of all countries in overcoming the pandemic.
Worku Belachew, a journalist at The Ethiopian Herald, explained that since the COVID-19 outbreak, China has determinedly enacted control measures and carried out international cooperation, demonstrating its responsible attitude towards the health of its own people, Africa and the rest of the world. Africa will learn from China in this regard. He hopes that in the future, Chinese and African media will maintain a long-term partnership, jointly overcome the pandemic and address global issues.
Jared Ombui Migiro, digital manager of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made people more aware that the world is a community with shared future. Facing this common crisis, the international community needs to unite and work together more than ever before. He expounded on the significance of Chinese-African media cooperation through his exchanges with fellow media workers in China. He also proposed that in order to strengthen global efforts in epidemic control, it is necessary to better play the role of mainstream media in China and Africa, establish a positive relationship through exchanges and interaction, and therefore build a beautiful homeland for mankind.
Li Yang, director of the Editorial Office of the Opinion Department of China Daily, said that during the global fight against COVID-19, some Western media reports have lacked authenticity on China and Africa's anti-epidemic efforts. Mainstream media in China and Africa should unite to resist these erroneous remarks and claims, publish factual news and reports with fairness, and make more concrete efforts to boost confidence and save lives. He also suggested that the African people establish Chinese-language websites to help Chinese people gain first-hand information directly from African countries.
Samuel Freeman Worzie, the national public relations officer of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), said that in the face of this global health crisis, people are experiencing something termed as "an international conspiracy" against the African continent by the West. However, he thanked African countries and their bilateral partners who have chosen to remain kind and resilient in mustering a collective response in the fight against the disease, in spite of this conspiracy.
Victor Jafar dos Reis, an announcer at Radio Mozambique, introduced Mozambique's progress in the fight against COVID-19 and the support provided by the international community. He said that all countries should strengthen international anti-epidemic cooperation with a scientific attitude, so as to jointly overcome the pandemic.
Luo Jun, deputy director of the English Desk of the International News Department at Xinhua News Agency, took the Agency's reports on Africa's epidemic situation as an example to illustrate the similarities between China and African countries. For instance, China and Africa's voices have not been completely heard on the international stage, some even being deliberately misinterpreted by the West; and some "ill-disposed" have distorted global issues to interfere with the official and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. She also expressed her hope that the media would strengthen communication and cooperation, help the media's voice be heard, and jointly build a community with shared future for China and Africa.
Raphael Bamidele Oni, editor-in-chief of Diplomats Extra Magazine, proposed suggestions for strengthening cooperation between Chinese and African media by analyzing the challenges posed to them by COVID-19. He said that the majority of media outlets in Nigeria are owned by private individuals and that the lockdown has affected a lot of private organizations. Media workers are facing the risks of lower wages and even layoffs, which may hinder timely and effective information sharing. In this regard, they should redouble their efforts in proposing media reforms and innovations, establishing media contact circles, and building a regular platform for Chinese and African media, so as to achieve closer communication between media workers.
David Mukholi, managing editor of editorial at Vision Group, analyzed the changes brought about by COVID-19 to the production and publishing of media works. He said that during the pandemic, as network media develops rapidly, press workers are adapting to the new trends and coping with the challenges brought about by the upgrading of media. He also called on Chinese and Ugandan media to jointly overcome the pandemic for a better future by illustrating the news and reports of Vision Group's newspaper on Ugandan people's anti-epidemic efforts in Guangzhou, China.
Wang Xiaohui, editor-in-chief of China.org.cn, summarized by saying that as media professionals, all speakers had expounded both personal views and working practices, detailed the current situation of anti-epidemic reporting in China and Africa, and discussed the role that the media should play there in epidemic control. The webinar's participants reached a consensus that China and Africa should strengthen cooperation to meet the current challenges and build a community of shared future for the two peoples. These practices will demonstrate the sense of mission and responsibility of media workers on both sides. He also hoped that in the future, all those working in the media can uphold the concept of "building a community of shared future for mankind," fulfill their responsibilities, and carry out more fruitful cooperation in international communication.
During the webinar, the participants conducted in-depth exchanges and reached a broad consensus on the topics of "Anti-epidemic experience sharing on media reporting in China and Africa," "The media's roles and responsibilities in major public emergencies," and how to "Strengthen anti-epidemic exchanges and cooperation between China and Africa, and jointly build a community of shared future."
The webinar was co-organized by Beijing Review, Beijing Bosheng International Cultural Exchange Co., Ltd. and Beijing Xufang International Digital Culture Media Co., Ltd. All the African participants had attended a foreign aid training seminar hosted by CIPG Training Center.