Media Department Hosts the West African Speaker Series: Reporting in the Time of COVID-19

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a quote from Dr. Jeslyn Lemke, as well as links to the sites and social media of the guest speakers mentioned (02/24/2021)

Starting on February 24, Pacific’s Media Department will host three renowned West African journalists in a new Zoom series about how reporting has changed cross culturally the time of COVID-19. 

The 2 hour Zoom lectures will take place at 1pm on February 24, March 1, and March 3, with guest speakers Seth Boateng with MyJoyMedia in Ghana, Patrick Fort with Agence France-Presse on the Ivory Coast, and Emmanuel Akinwotu with The Guardian in Nigeria respectively. The series will be facilitated by Dr. Jeslyn Lemke, a journalism professor at Pacific. 

Dr. Lemke was inspired to host this opportunity because of the worldwide phenomenon that is COVID-19, as well as the importance of students being able to learn about day to day reporting in a structural setup that is different from Forest Grove. For students to learn about how COVID-19 is affecting the daily ins and outs of life in Lagos or Accra could be really eye opening and really valuable, according to Lemke. 

“I think that it is really important to know what is going on in another place because it expands your self concept and your self knowledge, as well as your own world perception,” Lemke said. “Cross cultural experiences, particularly in a culture as different from ours as West Africa are absolutely invaluable to character growth for students and for learning more about the world.”

To open the series, Seth Boateng will be discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected coverage and the reporting routines in Ghana specifically. His focus will be on explaining the reporting regime prior to COVID-19, as well as how it has changed since the start of the pandemic. He will include stories of fellow journalists, including some of his colleagues who have contracted the virus, as well as the state of the pandemic in Ghana, supported with statistics. Boateng will also show a video clip of some stories he and his team have produced during the pandemic.  

“I think it’s important that we let them [students] know that it’s not always about the bad news and the bad stories, but also the good ones and lessons that other worlds can learn from our parts of the world,” Boateng said. 

Being one of the most decorated journalists not only in Ghana but in Africa, Boateng feels that he is getting the opportunity to share how he got to a high level and the amount of work that went into it. He wants to let aspiring journalists studying at Pacific appreciate how it takes passion to practice journalism and how the passion attached to it at times makes it a calling.

 “I want to make the point of how it is possible for any of us to get there. It is the reason in spite of all the dangers hovering around COVID 19–because of passion–we still risk and step out to speak to people and tell their stories,” Boateng said.

The series is open to all students and staff at Pacific, and those planning to attend can join through this Zoom link. — Chandler Fleming

Photo Courtesy Seth Boateng

Production Manager

Major: Multimedia

Hometown: Parker, Colorado

Hobbies: Lacrosse, volleyball, cleaning, organizing, working for Dutch Bros

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