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StellenboschX: Freedom of expression in the African media and digital policy landscape

This course explores freedom of expression, access to information, and online freedoms in Africa, considering disinformation and issues with Internet companies’ models. It addresses AI's impact on media and journalism, examining colonial legacies and neo-colonial control of communications for political repression, and civil society's role in achieving change.

The course delves into transforming inhibiting policies and practices, enabling better communication freedoms through appropriate laws.

Freedom of expression in the African media and digital policy landscape
4 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Apr 12
Ends Oct 16

About this course

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The course’s foundation is an overview of the principles of freedom of expression and access to information and how these apply to media and online freedoms in Africa today. These freedoms are basic human rights, recognised the world over and codified in international and African documents as well as many national laws. The course offers a frame for assessing whether any restrictions on these rights meet international standards of being necessary or justifiable in order to protect other basic rights. Apart from legal frameworks, it also looks at other elements that make up an enabling environment where communications media can thrive and play a positive role in democracy and development. These elements include pluralism of service providers, a diversity of content and inclusive journalism.

The course looks closely at the implications of Internet communications. The key issue here is the promotion of digital rights, the right of everyone in the online world to access, use, create and publish information on digital media, blogs, websites and social messaging. It further examines the growing danger of disinformation and the problems of Internet companies’ business models. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its possible effects on the media and journalism are also interrogated.

The course is designed to support participants with knowledge for taking effective civil action to work for positive change in free expression in their country and beyond.

Course participants have the opportunity to learn from the experience of experts and to gain ideas by engaging in discussion forums.

It is highly recommended that participants take both courses in the Professional Certificate in Media and Digital Policy in Africa. The second course, which builds on the first, closely examines the regulation of media, the internet and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as issues of access to information, the challenge of the economic viability of media and further tips for civil action.

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At a glance

What you'll learn

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Free expression, access to information and media freedom:

  • Freedom of expression as a two-sided right.
  • A tool to check whether restrictions on freedom of expression are justifiable.
  • The interrelation of international agreements and national law.

Media independence, safety, pluralism and diversity:

  • Criteria for the independence of media.
  • Standards of professional journalism.
  • Safety of journalists and media.
  • Pluralism and diversity in the media.
  • Different types of media.
  • Gender diversity in the media.

The internet and freedom of expression

  • Universal access to the internet.
  • Government interference with internet access.
  • Surveillance and cybercrime legislation.
  • The challenge of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Disinformation and how to combat it.
  • How to protect the integrity of online expression.

Effective civil society engagement in support of democratic media policy:

  • The role of civil society.
  • Formal and informal channels of civil society engagement.
  • Getting a handle on law reform.
  • Civil society may be undermined.

This course is part of Media and Digital Policy in Africa Professional Certificate Program

Learn more 
Expert instruction
2 skill-building courses
Progress at your own speed
2 months
3 - 5 hours per week

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