Monday, 25 May 2020

Media Insights From an Expert

The life of a foreign correspondent is not always an easy one, as Christoph Plate told the meeting last week.
     My own spell in London as a foreign correspondent in the mid-90s didn't involve any wars, conflict areas, being shot at or any other hazardous situations (being shouted at by Princess Diana's bodyguards hardly compares), but Christoph certainly had a very different experience.
     He told the club that he studied political science and African studies at university in Germany before becoming a journalist.
     He experienced at first hand the horrors of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 ("a happy year for South Africa but not for Rwanda") when more than 800 000 people were killed in 100 days between April and June for ethnic reasons.
     "The death and suffering was unspeakable," he said.
     He was also a war correspondent in Somalia and in the Middle East in Iraq, Syria, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Christoph Plate
     The quality of journalism, especially print journalism, has deteriorated since 1994, partly because certain business people believe they can own media outlets to further their own aims, he said, predicting that the media business model will eventually change to one where outlets will be funded by donors.
     He was approached by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to serve as director of their media programme for sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, a post he has filled since.
     He was a member of the Rotary Club of Lindau-Westallgäu in Southern Germany and has been looking for a home in Rotary in South Africa since arriving here. He has found it in New Dawn.
     Christoph says as an outsider he experiences less togetherness amongst South Africans than he did in the heady days of 1994.
Peter James-Smith, our AG, was a welcome visitor to the Zoom meeting
     Christoph is married to Sylvia, a Scottish Kenyan. They have two children a son, Phillip (15) and a daughter Leila (7). Both are at the Deutsche Internationale Schule in Parktown. We'll no doubt be able to get to know them a bit better once the lockdown allows for more social interaction.
     Christoph's talk was very enthusiastically received by club members and quite a few said they'd love to hear him speak again to tell some more about his adventures in Africa.
     His membership has also meant that New Dawn could pay a further R30000 to the Alexandra Education Committee for their feeding scheme for scholarship learners in the Alexandra township this week.
     This means that New Dawn has already contributed R123000 as part of the club's Sondla Abantwana project, with the promise of more to come.
     The speaker this week is Masego (Momo) Matiko of the National School of the Arts, a Rotary long-term exchange student in southern Thailand in the province of Songkia, in the Mueang district.
     Momo spoke very eloquently when we last saw her at the inauguration of the National School of the Arts Interact club late last year with Joan Sainsbury, who mentors her.
     She says she's looking forward to the Zoom meeting on Wednesday (at 7am sharp).
     She's been in Thailand for 5 months already and is only scheduled to return on 9 December. That's is the lockdown allows it, of course.
     A Thought for the Week: Some people are always grumbling that roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. - Alphonse Karr (1808 - 1890)

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