With a new office in Ghana, DW Akademie is reinforcing its focus on freedom of information, citizen journalism and social participation in the west African country.
Those attending the official opening included Nana King from the new DW Akademie office, Ute Schaeffer, Christoph Retzlaff, Natascha Schwanke and Daniel Blank
"This office reflects just how committed and extensive this cooperation is," said Germany's ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff, at the official opening of DW Akademie's new office in Accra. He was referring to the many joint projects being developed by DW Akademie together with Ghanaian media outlets and institutes.
Among the 130 guests attending the festivities were high-ranking representatives from influential Ghanaian media organizations, civil society and politics. The celebrations included an open discussion on the topic, "Verify it! Reporting 'Truth' in the Digital Age", something which is particularly relevant in Ghana, especially with presidential and parliamentary elections coming up in December 2016.
With public discourse on social media so manipulable, journalists are facing new challenges. How, for example, can reporters keep up with the flood of information on social media? How can they verify information they find online and on social media? This was heavily discussed at the event and is one of the issues being addressed by DW Akademie's numerous projects in Ghana.
A contact point for media workers
Speaking at the opening event, journalist Manasseh Azuri Awurri called on Ghanaian media outlets to provide more resources for investigative research and thorough fact-checking. Raymond Acquah from Fact-Check Ghana, a local DW Akademie partner, stressed that "checking the facts can also mean daring to do things differently." Fact-Check Ghana, an online fact-checking site dedicated to promoting accuracy in political leadership, is examining the validity of statements made by candidates and campaigns ahead of the December elections.
"This event and the discussions reflect how we are approaching our work here. We want it to be effective, communicative and provide content and activities attuned to our partners' key issues and target groups," said DW Akademie Deputy Director, Ute Schaeffer in her opening speech. Schaeffer encouraged those attending to view the new office as a meeting place for queries and discussions about Ghana's media development.
Heading the new office is Daniel Blank, who has been on location since March steering media projects and further developing contacts with partner organizations. Blank has 13 years of experience in the media sector including as a trainer and consultant for DW Akademie.
Working together side-by-side
In 2016, DW Akademie also plans to open an office in Nairobi, Kenya and in Kampala, Uganda. DW Akademie has offices in Medellín, Colombia and Yangon, Myanmar. "The new Ghana office will make our work in West Africa more effective," said Natascha Schwanke, head of DW Akademie's Africa division. "It'll be easier for our partners and organizations to contact us and regional experts will be more involved in our projects." Focuses of other DW Akademie projects in Ghana include community reporting, access to information and journalism education.