Date: Friday, 08 April 2022
By Jeff Pearce April 7, 2022 Note: What follows are excerpts from a document created February 27, 2022 that was supposed to be absorbed into a greater proposal for a Pan-African news network, for which we were seeking about $20 to $30 million in start-up capital. Because I can no longer trust that my former “partners” might not help themselves to the programming concepts in here, I can at least put them out in the world so that others know who first developed them. It’s hardly compensation for my time and effort, but at least they’ll be out there. Some sections are left out that would be of little interest, plus I have redacted references to the media brand we were originally supposed to build on, as well as profiles of key senior staff and discussion of security issues. Whether my conception and program ideas have merit are up to anyone’s subjective judgment, but I still believe there’s an urgent need for a African news network done right. I hope one day it comes into being even if I can’t help or contribute. • Why the World Needs It In July of 2019, the New York Times put out an ad for the position of Nairobi bureau chief. The successful candidate “has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania.” The bureau would cover “an enormous patch of vibrant, intense, and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.” Prominent Africans were disgusted. Travis Adkins, the president of the U.S. African Development Corporation, tweeted that it was “hard to distinguish” the ad “from a call to join a 19th century expedition with Livingstone and Stanley.” With brilliant sarcasm, journalist Larry Madowo claimed on Twitter that he was “overjoyed” that the Nairobi bureau chief would soon “patrol our pirate seas and deserts… I live for the white gaze.” Lam Sisterhood did a spoken-word performance with the wording of the ad that was laugh-out-loud hilarious. An artist Jim Chuchu went further, having the script of the ad form narration over clips of the most racist cartoon depictions of Africans from the black-and-white 1930s and forties era. The Times was embarrassed enough that it pulled the ad, but it apparently learned nothing from the backlash because about a year later… it appointed as its chief Africa correspondent Declan Walsh, a white man whose reporting speciality was Pakistan. Despite us supposedly living in the age of Black Lives Matter, white faces still dominate African coverage: Max Bearak, the East Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post; its West Africa bureau chief in Nairobi, Danielle Paquette; Jason Burke for The Guardian; Sarah Carter, the bureau chief in Johannesburg for CBS News; Alexandra Zavis, the bureau chief in Johannesburg for Reuters; Tom Gardner, who writes from Addis Ababa for The Economist; and the list goes on. And the problem wouldn’t be solved if you merely rotated these staffers out and replaced them with black reporters or Africans — because those who work for them are still catering to the biases of white editors back in New York and London. The recent Tigray conflict in Ethiopia offers two painful examples. Jemal Osman violated the privacy and safety of a shelter for sexual assault victims for a segment on Britain’s Channel 4, led there by terrorist contacts who wanted him to depict their side as victims; imagine if Osman had tried to do this at a shelter in say, London’s Bethnal Green or in Brooklyn? And yet Osman is African — he could get away with it because he was “in Africa” and his editors back in London didn’t care. In a similar vein, the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga visited the Oromo Liberation Army; in other words, she also met with a terrorist group to profile their members and depict “their side.” Imagine the knock on the door from the FBI if a reporter for NBC met with Al Qaeda soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to “get their side.” Yet somehow the OLA segment didn’t raise any ethical flags either. The news organization itself set the tone and didn’t bat an eye. Put simply, the Western media cannot be trusted to report on the whole continent. Because news is a hungry baby bird — squeaking away, constantly needing to be fed — these outlets fall back on what is easiest. It’s simply easier to talk to white people in Cambridge or Berlin to “interpret” Africa. Even though Human Rights Watch has on multiple occasions used photos from Iraq and Somalia for Ethiopia in promotional tweets — not even getting the country right — Western reporters still call them up for a quick quote. Even though Amnesty International did an internal review and found its own London senior staff routinely use the N-word, Western reporters still rely on their reports, which have also been proven to have shoddy research practices (instead of visiting the site of a massacre, for instance, Amnesty made long-distance phone calls… and then didn’t bother to verify who it was talking to). Instead of talking to Africans about Africa, they’ll talk to what we call “filter authorities” about Africa. And it’s easier — and cheaper sometimes — to not even send a reporter to the country where the story is. “To tell us more about what’s going on in Somalia, we now go to our correspondent in Cape Town…” Thousands of miles away. Imagine if a news network reported on say, a major union strike in the middle of Munich… but it did so by talking over a Zoom call with their correspondent in Paris. Ridiculous, right? So, why do we tolerate it for Africa? Such biased, outdated, and foolish practices not only fail to serve millions of people, they make absolutely no business sense as corporations and other countries want to understand markets of huge potential. How can you invest in The Gambia if you don’t have the first clue what’s going on there? And the news outlet you turn to can’t be bothered to do its homework properly? If that news outlet broadcasts outrageous, hyperbolic nonsense about the safety of a region where you hope to start new mining operations, where does that leave your business? Our network can correct that. Our network can correct a lot of things. Journalism is a culture unto itself, and it’s badly overdue for reform. In a similar vein, individual media organizations have their own sub-cultures. So, we don’t wish to merely build a new media business. We believe the entire success of this venture depends on shifting the paradigm. It is not enough to have a few black faces standing in front of a camera. People do need to see themselves represented in reports on the events of the day. But more importantly, they need those stories told through the lens of shared experiences, history, and values. Instead of the lingering and condescending exoticism of the Western approach, people need stories told according to ethics that depict African witnesses, survivors, sources, officials, and the average person in the street with dignity and respect. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed put it well when he addressed the African Union in early February. “Africa is often portrayed in the international media negatively. The endless representation as a continent troubled by civil wars, hunger, corruption, greed, disease and poverty is demeaning and dehumanizing and likely driven by a calculated strategy and agenda. “The stereotypical and negative media representations of Africa not only disinforms the rest of the world about our continent, but it also shapes the way we see ourselves as Africans. “Telling our own stories and shaping our own narratives must be our top priority.” This is why the slogan for the initial years of the Network will be the most famous aphorism that reflects African thinking and African values; it is the very definition of ubuntu and sums up how many African cultures think of community: “I am because we are.” Our network will serve that community. Our network will personify who “We are.” • Who We’ll Serve The Network sees the most realistic rollout as first establishing operations in East Africa — a region our Founders know well and that allows us to build on our expertise. The nations we’d initially cover intensely would be: Ethiopia Eritrea South Sudan Djibouti Kenya Tanzania Uganda Nigeria Ghana Ivory Coast South Africa may look conspicuously absent but given its high concentration of sophisticated media that already imitates Western media outlets, we should build our corporate brand first before trying to take on major competitors in a market where they are already well established. The same caution applies over putting a bureau in Cairo. True, Egypt is in Africa — but it often doesn’t think of itself as African, and it’s where we would lock horns immediately with Al Jazeera before we are up to “full strength.” So, again, let’s go where these big players are ignoring great markets and great stories. As New York City is the incontestable media capital of the world (as well as a major hub of commercial business and the entertainment industries), we need to be headquartered there to be taken seriously. During its initial rollout, CNN suffered from basing itself in Atlanta, which was always done for the personal convenience of founder Ted Turner rather than any business rationale or journalistic exigency. Al Jazeera — technically headquartered in Qatar’s capital, Doha — understood that it had to open North American and UK bureaus if it was to be successful in the launch of its English language service. But over 20 years, Al Jazeera’s English service has strayed far from its original mission, even losing sight at times of its key original goal to depict Arabs and Muslims fairly and positively. So, we have the chance here to learn from others’ mistakes. Being based in New York means “no out of sight, out of mind” in terms of major advertisers not thinking of us or our impact. It also keeps us a very safe and comfortable distance from any overt interference or intimidation by governments or terrorist groups that may take offense to our coverage. It is also crucial to remember and understand that the Network will not serve only Africans in Africa, but millions of interested viewers of different African diaspora communities scattered across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Besides our HQ in New York, we will also have major bureaus in Addis Ababa, Lagos, Washington DC, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Paris, and Abidjan. But the bureau organizational structure will be mainly horizontal, not hierarchical, with information flows and consultations running primarily back and forth with New York HQ, Addis Ababa, Washington, and Paris bureaus. The bureau in Paris reflects our appreciation that while our network will broadcast primarily in English, there are 29 countries in Africa that still use French and are still influenced by France’s involvement on the continent (currency and banking issues are easy examples that comes to mind). So, we should be paying close attention to how France’s cough may give French Africa a cold, in the same way as we’ll keep an eye on DC for how Congress impacts many parts of the continent. A bureau in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire will work closely with its Paris cousin. For our first year, one hour of the broadcast schedule with repeat later will be made in French. As the Network grows, it is entirely conceivable that the French one-hour broadcast could be commercially viable to “spin off” into its own channel, but English will remain the lingua franca for our largest target demographics. Unlike Western mainstream broadcasters, our target demographics skew younger. Most viewers for traditional outlets such as BBC, CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera fall between 35 to 60. These viewers grew up with television; they trust traditional outlets, so viewing is a habit, but they may also look to alternative sources. Such networks are losing their market share mainly because younger people have lost confidence in them to fully tell stories in an increasingly complicated, multi-ethnic world and are looking to a wide selection of online alternatives. By comparison, many African countries have remarkably young populations. They already know these traditional Western media outlets have failed them (or are not interested in serving them at all) and so do not invest trust in them. But they are also learning that online alternatives can often be reliable. Africans and African diaspora between the ages of 17 all the way up to 60-plus are hungry for news about themselves and are ready to turn to a unique source that provides it. The Network will be built for them. • Staff Levels for the Network Here is the rough breakdown of the editorial staff levels and scheduling for the operation. Again, it does not factor in staffing complements for Sales or all of general Administration. (Editorial note: These numbers were always expected to fluctuate as new information came in to help the pitch.) • New York HQ As a 24-hour channel, the Network will run staff in shifts, with an overnight shift, early morning to mid-afternoon shift and late-afternoon to evening shift. The overnight shift for wire service and big brand 24-hour operations — the “graveyard shift” — traditionally means a skeleton crew in the West, but as our major coverage areas are eight hours ahead or more, we will staff HQ at a level that can accept and put out new material accordingly. Managing Editor Deputy Editor Assistant to the Managing Editor Program Manager Public Relations Manager Assistant to PR Manager General News Team 24 reporter-editors 4 sports reporters 4 entertainment reporters 12 video editors/ camera operators 12 studio camera operators 12 anchors/reporters 8 website/social media editors 5 floor directors 5 studio directors/producers 4 switchers 4 sound technicians 4 Master Control engineers Show Team 5 chase producers 3 guest relation assistants 4 traffic managers, i.e. staff who keep tight focus on commercial scheduling, timing of spots, etc. 3 makeup/wardrobe staff 3 video librarians, one for each shift 3 human resources personnel 6 security staff on-call for minding taping of live shows and promo events • Addis Ababa Bureau The Addis Bureau will be a key operation for our initial rollout and our early years. All bureau chiefs will be expected to do some reporting, and the bureau chief in Addis will also keep an eye on regional developments, sending out as needed reporters on assignments to cover Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, South Sudan, and Sudan. Bureau Chief 7 reporters, general assignment 5 news editors 3 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers • Paris and Abidjan Bureaus As mentioned earlier, the Paris Bureau will be vital in keeping an eye on news of utmost interest to French Africa and will work closely with the Abidjan Bureau. Paris Bureau Chief 12 reporters, general assignment 5 news editors 3 sports reporters 3 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 makeup/wardrobe staff 3 video librarians, one for each shift Abidjan Bureau Chief 7 reporters, general assignment 5 news editors 3 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers • Washington Bureau The Washington Bureau will cover Presidential, State Department, and Congressional news as it pertains to Africa and report on diaspora community news in the “DMV,” the DC-Maryland-Virginia area. It will also keep an eye on African diaspora community news in Canada, Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere. Bureau Chief 7 reporters, general assignment 5 news editors 3 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field • Lagos Bureau The Lagos Bureau will cover not only Nigeria but any major developments in Ghana, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other locales as needed. Bureau Chief 5 reporters 3 news editors 2 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers • Nairobi Bureau Bureau Chief 7 reporters, general assignment 5 news editors 3 reporters for Show/Documentary unit 5 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers • Dar es Salaam Bureau Bureau Chief 5 reporters 2 news editors 3 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers • Kampala Bureau Bureau Chief 5 reporters 2 news editors 3 video editors/camera operators, in studio and in the field 2 on-call drivers Stringers, freelance writers, and fixers will be cultivated as well for Asmara, Dakar, Monrovia, Luanda and other cities. • Shows and Programming There are four market regions for our initial programming strategy and rollout: East Africa, Middle East, Europe, and North America. Scheduled time blocks will be flexible to allow for breaking news and coverage to keep going when needed for live events. Some shows will be recorded in advance (e.g. Open Forum) while others will broadcast live in their time blocks. The different time zones will mean staggered schedules for shows. Here are just a few of the shows we will develop and offer: • Rise Rise will be the morning show that will kick-start every market region’s weekday, our viewers’ daily run-down of the most important news to come out of Africa. It will be the collaborative product of all bureaus, put together by the New York HQ team, which will broadcast it live, meaning it will air 7:00 AM to 9 AM East Africa Time. The recording of the first cast for East Africa will then repeat on cable two hours later in Europe and where available West Africa, hours later still for broadcast in North America’s East and West Coasts. The original taping of the show will be edited and “freshened up” if urgent breaking news requires it. Rise will rely heavily on packages (reporter field reports) produced by the different bureaus, with standard use of SOTs (Sound on Tape) over footage. The first half hour will go hard with major news. The second half hour slot — after a two-minute recap — will focus on African business news, sports, and entertainment. The third half hour will look at three or four of the leading stories with more depth, involving interviews in studio or over Zoom links. Since many such interviews can often be dry, we’ll sometimes mix it up and vary the format a little. Sometimes having whole panels interview a prestigious guest or perhaps if we can book well ahead, have prominent figures lead the interviews instead of just our anchors. The final half hour will focus on major stories in Europe, North America, and Asia, but the key to this will be in the writing, emphasizing how they matter to Africans or look at these unfolding events from African points of view. Plus there will be discussion of how the news day may progress across Africa and African diaspora communities. • Open Forum A one-hour talk show with a studio audience that aims to have leading African intellectuals, literary figures and ambassadors offer their views and take questions from the studio audience. Over the years, this traditional format has drifted to “soft” subject matter in the West: shows about dating and lifestyle, entertainment gossip and other fluff. Open Forum will be different in that it will take on serious issues and have guests with important, often controversial things to say about how Africa is developing politically, economically, and culturally. • The Way We See It This show will be a two-hour time block that catches viewers up on how the news day is evolving. It would mix packages from the previous day with newly filed, fresh reports coming in, as well as short interview segments done in the traditional style connected to breaking news. Most cable news networks work on the “15-minute wheel,” repeating scripts word-for-word and the same line-up, but this model has been broken for a while — for the very reason that when people watch news channels, they leave them on. If you want to keep people watching, break the pattern and vary the line-ups and the interview time lengths. Our target demographics don’t want and don’t need their news “bite size” in the American model — they come to us for the content, and so we can arrange it as it fits for our audience and our production needs. • Le courrier africain News from all over Africa in French. Translation, scripting, and production would be done mainly at the Paris bureau with live reports and packages from the bureau in Abidjan. The original broadcast will go out live at 6:00 PM Paris and Abidjan time, airing in the Noon EST time block in North America. The recorded cast will then be repeated in Europe for the 7:00 to 8:00 PM time block. The broadcast will do more than merely recycle material from the English operations. It will lead with stories of urgent interest to francophone African viewers and what’s happening in French Africa first. The broadcast will reflect that French Africans may view their world differently from their Anglophone counterparts and reflect their unique language nuances with proper attention and respect. • Analyze Africa A one-hour weekday show that will focus on politics right across the continent. It will rely heavily on in-studio and Zoom call interviews, as well as talking to reporters out in the field (occasionally our bureau chiefs). It will also dissect global issues from African perspectives. How do Africans view the Russia-Ukraine conflict? Has there been any substantial progress in more equity over Covid and future potential pandemics after all the talk? What will make the show different than the usual talk shop programs on other networks is an emphasis on facts rather than speculation. The show is not (or at least very rarely) about “Gotcha!” over politicians. It won’t look for sparks of an argument for the sake of TV theater. It will be about posing possible solutions to issues. With that spirit in mind, leading thinkers and politicians will be invited on to the program to offer substance — not to help their image or simply push a government agenda. • Invest Africa A half-hour program each weekday with news and features on medium-cap to big business enterprises, key industries such as mining, and a jargon-free approach to digging deep into the evolving economics of the continent. Everything from occasional looks at sovereign wealth funds to daily checks on how Africa’s stock exchanges are performing. • Shop Safe Shop Safe will have a far different take on business for its half hour each weekday. How do small to medium businesses in African countries make sure they can maintain their inventories and supply chains? What are the latest innovations in micro-financing? How do they keep their “shop safe” from a gamut of problems that can range from gouging taxes to shoplifters to permit bureaucracy to even the weather elements? And how do African consumers, “shop safe?” Avoiding the latest scams, finding the right deals, hiring, say, a contractor or knowing what to watch out for when buying property in their country. Western news outlets do consumer awareness features for their viewers — African viewers deserve the same. • Read A Book A weekday mid-afternoon show of one hour intended for viewers all ages — but focusing primarily on 10-year-olds to high schoolers — that helps them improve their reading comprehension and basic math skills. Nigerian stateswoman Obiageli Ezekwesili wrote a recent column pointing out, “Nine in ten children in Africa cannot read with comprehension by the age of 10. This phenomenon is called learning poverty.” Consider that film and televisions star LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow was a success for PBS for more than twenty years, now fondly remembered by different generations, but this was a program aimed at young children in the U.S. As Ezekwesili notes, the issue is not whether African young people can read, but if they can understand what they read and engage in critical thinking and have numeracy. Africans literally need a show of their own, one that reflects both the stories they’re likely to have access to and an entire universe of novels, picture books, textbooks, and websites that could help free their minds. Our African news network will be in a great position to perform what is essentially a much-needed public service. We also foresee this as being one of the most popular products on our slate of scheduled programs and likely a great public relations win. • The View So Far The View So Far will be a weekday afternoon two-hour time block that will essentially follow the format of the morning program, The Way We See It, but pursue those stories that have evolved over the day. As with its morning counterpart, it will mix packages from earlier broadcasts and ones newly produced, as well as offer short interview segments. As the show will run in the afternoon, the emphasis will be on how stories have developed and have come into focus. The View So Far will reflect, just like The Way We See It, our priority of offering news about Africa as it breaks and with proper depth, exceeding any coverage presented by the traditional Western networks. It will serve as the lead-in to the one-hour broadcast for North America airing between 6:00 and 7:00 PM. • Africa Now Africa Now will be the flagship one-hour evening newscast for the North America market. While relying heavily on packages and SOTs like our other live news blocks, the writing will be geared more towards explaining the unfolding events for African diaspora communities across the United States and Canada, with our Washington bureau and New York based staff also reaching out to its members and representatives for reactions. Its second half will offer world news but as always, from an African perspective. Why should this matter to us? What do our people think about it? And what are Africans doing about it, or how are they participating in the process? • Sport in Africa All the news on football (soccer), basketball, rugby, marathons, grand prix races, martial arts and other sports being played in Africa; how athletes do in the latest Olympics, and how teams will fare in the international showdowns. Half-hour every day, with a French broadcast version produced by the Paris and Abidjan bureaus. • Caravan Caravan will be our half-hour show for evening slots across our target markets devoted to all things entertainment in Africa. If there’s a hot new film coming out, we’ll cover it, and we’ll even cover the latest lousy film about Africa from Hollywood and explain why it stinks. We’ll profile rising music stars and hit the festivals. We’ll ask TV stars what they’re up to next, and we’ll even poke our head in at major art exhibitions and folk music and art events. Given the massive range of fascinating creative work out there, Caravan will never run out of people and events to report about. As with Entertainment Tonight in the West, it will take a lighter approach to its subject matter but never lapse into complete product placement fluff (like ET), because coverage of “big stars” will have the counterweight of reporting on cool, innovative performers you’ve never heard of and arts events in Nairobi or Kampala that would never get attention by Western media. • Things Fall Apart HBO has Last Week Tonight, Comedy Central has The Daily Show… But while Trevor Noah is South African and brings an interesting flavor to what used to be Jon Stewart’s gig, his primary audience is still Americans, and most of his topics are still American. There is so much that is outrageous, surreal, and downright silly sometimes in African news events (often because of the interaction with Western powers and personalities) that it easily deserves a show of its own. The show would be shot weekday afternoons in front of a studio audience to properly earn its laughs and get the kind of energy such shows need. It would air in the 9:00 or 10:00 PM slots for most markets and imitate at first the Daily Show format of news at the top with jokes and sardonic commentary, green screen humorous fake reports, and a serious interview done in the last few minutes. But what will make it a breakout program for us is the African perspectives and African senses of humor brought to the material. • Freedom to Move A weekly program that looks at travel in completely new ways. Travel shows on Western networks presume the viewer is a privileged person who can go where they please and fly anywhere. Freedom to Move considers travel from African perspectives. How can you best get around unfair and time-consuming visa bureaucracy? How can you best deal with sexual harassment during the process? How are companies and industries adjusting their conference events to deal with African visitors being denied entry? What are survival tips for IDPs, coping as best they can in conflict zones? And while Western tourists flock to the standard sites, how can you rediscover your own country and find new vacation spots for you? • How We Got Here A half-hour weekly show that doesn’t follow a set format, which will be part of its charm. It may lead off with a host doing an interview or it may use cheap and cheerful animation similar to the kind used in YouTube videos to make its point. It may start with a live song performance that speaks to an issue about to be explored. Viewers will tune in because they’ll never know just what they’ll get — only that it will be entertaining. But the core of the half hour will be an examination of the history behind breaking news events. Instead of presenting the background facts in a stuffy lecture or in a slipshod “let’s get through it as quick as possible” manner, the show tells you what you should know to fully understand why things are happening as they are. • Dinknesh About forty years ago, anthropologists found a skeleton three million years old in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia and called it “Lucy.” Even though Humanity’s ancestor was discovered in Africa, the team of scientists and the Western media didn’t think of calling it an African name — and so “Lucy” stuck. But in Ethiopia’s Amharic language, the skeleton is called “Dinknesh,” which means “You Marvel.” Dinknesh will be our show that gives Africa back its scientific, technological, and engineering marvels. It will profile African scientists, particularly female scientists, and look at the latest innovations coming out of African universities, tech labs, institutes, and medical facilities. It will also occasionally look at architectural topics. It will report on the latest telecom improvements changing Africa. And it will cover how scientific developments have far reaching consequences across the continent. (What followed after here were profiles of the founders and Management talent who already showed interest in being onboard. For obvious reasons, I’ve omitted this.) • Our Values The Network will aspire to the highest ethics that reflect and serve the communities and cultures in Africa and African diaspora communities across the world. We are dedicated to the facts — always. Western mainstream networks treat African nations as pits of despair, zones of conflict, regions plagued with corruption — problems to be solved just because Africa nations exist. We will not. We will seek out stories that present African life, culture, and news with insight and depth, and where appropriate, we will present these in positive ways. Our values will be best reflected in the language we use. We will not write or say derogatory statements on air about any ethnic/religious group or members of a sexual orientation or gender. When exploring issues related to such categories, special attention will be paid to treat members of them with respect and tact. As such, bias or inappropriate speech and conduct in newsrooms among our staff will not be tolerated and will be met with appropriate discipline. We will not use clichés, “exotic” tropes, or sensationalistic images in our reportage. Just because a major Western media brand says it does not make it true. Instead of presuming these organizations are always right about events in Africa, we will investigate for ourselves to confirm. And only then do we run with copy. African sources — academics, writers, qualified experts — will be interviewed and presented on camera first before resorting to white Western equivalents. As a general policy, we will minimize use of reports by major human rights group “brands,” such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and their representatives will not be interviewed on air or given space on the news website. Besides their unreliability in terms of research and ethics, it simply makes more journalistic sense to investigate cases of human rights abuse in Africa ourselves. The laziest reporting in the world is to “talk to the man who talked to the man who saw the woman.” The whole purpose of this Network is for Africans to report directly on Africa. We pledge not to depict or present terrorist groups as legitimate political entities that deserve “to have their story told.” We will not sensationalize war, and we will properly research cases of famine or alleged massacres and obtain proper visual evidence before we report such incidents on our Internet site or broadcasts. We will have a specific policy created in consultation with medical and humanitarian experts of African descent on how, when, and if victims of sexual assault should be interviewed. Priority will be given to the victim’s mental and physical safety over filing the story. No faces or identities of child soldiers will be used in any photos or video footage on the Network, including from secondary sources or social media posts. We will not send fixers and freelance stringers into conflict zones without there being fair compensation for them. Neither will we ask them to produce work for us for free from a conflict zone. • How We’ll Start With an initial, appropriate tranche of start-up capital, the Network will begin leasing workspaces in New York, Addis Ababa, Paris, and Washington, D.C., retrofitting them all with soundproof editing bays and recording studios, with the New York headquarters equipped with a ground floor studio. On a parallel track, hiring will begin for our key bureaus, with Jeff and Jemal Countess taking the lead on recruiting the team for Addis, New York, and Washington, and Jeff recruiting a bureau chief and other staff in Paris. Jeff, Jemal and the other Founders will then travel for dual purposes: to recruit the best journalistic talent we can find across Africa and to secure accreditation for our staff to report and work within the respective countries. These two missions are simply not tasks that can be done over a phone call or Zoom meeting. They’ll take in-person meetings and assurances, building goodwill across multiple administrations while also closely assessing the media landscape more closely in each country before our launch and while securing talent. The next phase will begin with setting up the additional bureaus on a small scale. We anticipate that a three- to four-month lead time will be needed before being ready to broadcast. This window will allow for our different teams to produce documentary features, tape shows that won’t be dated too much when aired later, backup segments — in other words, “banking” material so that we can offer viewers an impressive selection of programming when we make our debut. The Network will first do a “soft launch” over the Internet before full cable and Internet broadcasts are made. Coinciding with the soft launch will be a full PR roll-out, emphasis on our key message of an African news network for Africans, profiles of our on-camera hosts and top reporters and of course, our CEO. The campaign would be tailored for Western media, while a completely different promotional campaign would be designed to build viewership and support across our African, Middle East and diaspora community markets. * More from Jeff Pearce Writer person. Books - Prevail, The Karma Booth, Gangs in Canada; in June 2021, Winged Bull, a bio of Henry Layard, the Victorian era’s Indiana Jones.