EAES Forms an Eastern Africa Regional Technical Working Group to Engage Big Tech and AI Companies

Kampala, Uganda – Eastern Africa takes a significant step forward in the protection of journalistic integrity and media interests with the establishment of the Eastern Africa Regional Technical Working Group (EAR-TWG). The EAR-TWG comprises ten (10) highly esteemed senior editors from the region, who have been nominated to serve on this vital committee.

The EAR-TWG’s primary mandate is to recommend and implement best practices and standards for safeguarding journalistic work and fostering constructive engagement with big tech and artificial intelligence (AI) companies that profit from works of journalism. As the
media landscape continuously evolves, it is crucial to ensure that media interests are adequately represented and protected.

The EAR-TWG will play a pivotal role in driving discussions, negotiations, and strategic decision-making on behalf of the regional media industry. By fostering partnerships and collaboration, it aims to uphold the values of freedom of the press, ethical journalism, and the responsible use of AI in the dissemination of information.

Under the auspices of the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES) Governing Council, the EARTWG will operate as an independent advisory body. It will offer insights and guidance to the EAES Governing Council on appropriate strategies and partnerships to safeguard journalistic integrity in the face of technological advancements.

The establishment of the Eastern Africa Regional Technical Working Group is a significant milestone in fortifying the integrity of journalism in our region. Our mission is to advocate for best practices that protect journalists’ rights and ensure fair and equitable engagement with big tech and AI companies. We, as a fraternity, are ready to engage big tech and AI firms jointly.

The ten esteemed senior editors appointed to the EAR-TWG are:
1. Asrat Seyoum (Editors Guild of Ethiopia)
Mr. Seyoum is a bilingual writer with 13 years of experience in the Ethiopian media industry. He has previously served as Editor-in-Chief of The Reporter. He is highly skilled in developing, translating, and editing technical documents. He is a founding member of the Editors Guild of Ethiopia and has contributed significantly to the Eastern Africa Journalism Review.

2.Catherine Dorcas Ageno (Uganda Editors’ Guild)
Ms. Ageno is an award-winning senior journalist and news anchor with the Nation Media Group in Uganda. She holds a post graduate diploma in journalism and aBachelor’s degree in Microfinance and Economic Development from the Uganda Martyrs University. Ageno is an active member of the Uganda Editors’ Guild and an executive board member of the Uganda Media Women’s Association.

3. Francis Mureithi (Kenya Editors’ Guild)
Mr. Mureithi is a Council Member of the Kenya Editors’ Guild representing Online Media. He is also the Digital Editor at The Star newspapers, Radio Africa Group.

4. Gloria Kavishe (Tanzania Editors Forum)
Ms. Kavishe is a senior staff of the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) Secretariat. She holds two master’s degrees in Digital Media and Technology and is currently in charge of managing digital transformation at TEF.

5. Pamella Sittoni (Kenya Editors’ Guild)
Ms. Sittoni is a former chairperson of the Kenya Editors’ Guild, a former trustee and currently serves in the Strategy Committee. She is the Group Managing Editor at Nation Media Group and also serves on the board of the World Editors Forum.

6. Sylvia Nankya (Uganda Editors’ Guild)
Ms. Nankya is a senior journalist with experience and an interest in development communication. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Uganda Radio Network and holds a Diploma in Journalism, Bachelor’s in Development Studies, and post-graduate training in good governance. She is an alumni of Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

7. Tsega Tariku (Editors Guild of Ethiopia)
Ms. Tariku is a trailblazer in the Ethiopian Media where she is a distinguished TV personality with over 13 years’ experience at Fana Broadcasting, most recently as Editor-in-Chief. A graduate from Hawassa University, she has produced shows on politics, health, and the environment. She is an advocate for gender in the media.

8. William Shao (Tanzania Editors Forum)
Mr. Shao is senior editor at Mwananchi Communications and member of the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF), he has a strong background on online media and digital technologies.

The EAES Executive Director, Churchill Otieno, will be the convener of the EAR-TWG. Prof. Nancy Booker, the Dean of the Aga Khan University Graduate School for Media and Communications, has agreed to serve as the EAR-TWG’s technical advisor. The EAR-TWG will report to the EAES Governing Council quarterly until their mandate is fully implemented. Their combined expertise and experience in the media industry will ensure comprehensive representation of the diverse voices and perspectives of journalists across the region.
The EAR-TWG will work in close collaboration with regional media bodies, civil society organizations, legislators, government officials, and relevant stakeholders to identify innovative solutions and foster dialogue with big tech and AI companies. Through strategic partnerships and cooperation, the EAR-TWG aims to create an enabling environment where journalists can thrive and continue to play their vital role in society.

We note that there is existing knowledge on these matters in the European Union where jurisdictions like Australia and others have successfully established a working formula, and that there is ongoing conversation in North America and Africa on the same. Indeed, just last month, the EAES did endorse the ‘Big Tech and Journalism – Principles for Fair Compensation’ adopted on July 14, 2023 at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg,South Africa. So far, 78 individuals and organisations from 25 countries across the world have endorsed these principles. The EAES looks forward to contributing significantly to the advancement and protection of journalistic work in Eastern Africa and to reinforcing the region’s commitment to free, unbiased, and responsible journalism.

By Daniel Kalinaki, President EAES.