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Africa

African Stories: TV features for a worldwide audience

Sharing know-how is the focus of the second phase of the "African Stories" project. The first phase began in 2011 and since then television crews from all over Africa have been trained in the production of TV features.

Whether it's about an initiative in Windhoek that provides children with school uniforms, a cake baker in Abuja who has established her own company, or banana plantations re-emerging in Guinea, "African Stories" TV reports draw attention to important development issues and tell true stories from an African perspective. The concept has proven to be successful. Eleven features have so far been broadcast by Deutsche Welle's globalization magazine, Global 3000. The project is continuing, with a new focus on longer features and the transfer of knowledge and skills.

"We want to make sure that participants can share with their colleagues back home the know-how they've gained in planning and producing high quality features," says DW Akademie project manager Natascha Schwanke. The cooperation project will run until 2015. Twelve "African Stories" TV crews will also have the chance to attend train-the-trainer workshops and become qualified trainers themselves. This will enable them to conduct trainings for staff in their own TV stations.

Impact on a broader scale

Following the workshops conducted during the first phase of the project in Uganda, Namibia, Senegal and Cameroon, nine co-productions have since been completed in the project's second phase: in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sengal, Guinea, Benin, Mali, the Republic of Congo and Malawi. The results have been 12-minute television features that were planned and produced in teams. "For many stations it's unheard of for producers, cutters and cameramen to come up with a storyboard together, and then go out and shoot together. 'African Stories' has also changed the journalistic approach of many participants," says Gerlind Vollmer. She is the trainer and coordinator of the Francophone countries involved in the project. This is not only changing the mind set of the journalists, says Vollmer - heads of departments and editors-in-chief are also beginning to rethink their own approaches.

Karte African Stories I & II DW-Akademie Englisch

To date, journalists, cutters and camera operators from 27 African countries have participated in Parts I and II of "African Stories". In the first phase conducted between 2011 and 2012, 90 participants from 30 different TV stations were trained in workshops focusing on planning and co-production. African Stories Part II builds on this cooperation and provides further training for the 16 best teams. "The journalists and technicians we've worked closely with over the years have become real experts in their craft. We’ve seen incredible progress," Vollmer says.

The project's successes

"African Stories" is one of DW Akademie's largest projects and its impact is considerable: the features are being broadcast by numerous stations and are reaching large audiences. The project’s approach to TV journalism has become a distinguishing feature that participants can easily identify. "At a recent meeting between two African heads of state," recalls Gerlind Vollmer, "two cameramen - one from Guinea and the other from Mali - recognized the way the other was shooting the press conference." The two men had never met before but quickly realized that both had taken part in "African Stories" workshops. Gerlind Vollmer says this is the best proof that the workshops are bearing fruit and that the know-how gained during the workshops is being put into practice.

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