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Press & Power in Africa

Mausi Segun, Catherine Gicheru, Prue Clarke

Africa is home to vibrant film industries, local talk shows, and a digitally-obsessed population. But what are the challenges journalists face when the government is controlling? And how can independent media be protected?

Hosted by Elaine Pearson. 

In the Utzon Room.

Talks & Ideas | Antidote 

“Development cannot happen without freedom of people to articulate what they feel and think.”


Catherine Gicheru

On media, freedom, and human rights 

Talk shows flourish in Zambia, while the Nollywood film industry is bigger than Hollywood - across a diverse continent, African media trends are incredibly varied. But in many places, press freedom is under threat: the Nigerian government has a record of imprisoning journalists. In Sudan, social media is shutdown in response to protests, and the Eritrean government closed independent media outlets in 2001. Similarly, Angola and Burundi monitor their news outlets. While mass and social media can be a tool for positive change, these channels can also get coopted by governments and used for oppression. 

Join Mausi Segun, Executive Director at Human Rights Watch's Africa Division, as she questions how countries' trends compare, and the intricacies of press freedom and human rights.

More about the speakers...

Mausi Segun, executive director of Human Right Watch's Africa Division, oversees the work of the division in approximately 30 countries. As a senior researcher, Segun conducted field investigations, authored press releases and dispatches on cycles of violence, the abduction of girls and women and  the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria. She has written pieces for the New York Times, The Independent UK, and Salon, and has been quoted in the Huffington Post, Washington Post and more.

Catherine Gicheru is an International Center for Journalists Fellow and country lead for Code for Kenya, a data journalism, civic technology initiative which is part of a pan-African federation, Code for Africa. She is also the lead for the Wanadata, the pan-African women in data journalism and women data scientists. Gicheru is a veteran journalist with two of the leading media organizations in the region. She was the first woman bureau chief and the first female news editor of the Nation Media Group in the region. She is also the founding editor of the daily newspaper, the Star.

Prue Clarke is a veteran international correspondent and media development specialist who has reported from Africa since 2004 for the Washington Post, the Guardian, Foreign Policy and the BBC. She created and led BBC radio Ebola programming in affected West African countries during the 2014 crisis. Prue founded New Narratives, a non-profit that has deployed $2m of support to independent and investigative journalism in West Africa. She was the director of International Reporting at the City University of New York’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Prue recently joined the Judith Neilson Institute as a Senior Executive. 

Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch. Based in Sydney, she works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. Pearson writes frequently for publications including Harper's Bazaar, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales. From 2007 to 2012 she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division based in New York.

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