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What is Africawoman?

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AFRICAWOMAN Policy and Style Guidelines (Second Draft) June 2003 CONTENTS PART I POLICY What is Africawoman? 3 Our values 3-5 When is it an Africawoman story? 5-7 PART II WRITING STYLE Setting the right tone 8 What are the ingredients of a winning story 8-9 Leading into the story 9-10 Communicate, not confuse 10-11 Quotes 11 Colour 11-12 Language 12 Names, places, time and dates 12-13 Length of articles 13 PART 111 SKILLS DEVELOPMENT News analysis 14-15 Commentary writing 15-16 Investigative journalism 16-18 Reporting projects, conferences and research 18-19 Writing profiles 19-20 PART I POLICY What is Africawoman? Africawoman is a professional news/feature service whose chief objective is to provide a guaranteed platform for the voices of African women to be heard in the debates coming out of the continent. It is the flagship of Africawoman Communications, a non-governmental organisation registered in Kenya as an affiliate of the Scotland-based Worldwoman media charity. Africawoman works closely with the British Council and the Department for International Development. Targeting both print and electronic media, Africawoman is produced by 90 women journalists in nine African countries. The project is currently being undertaken in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Ultimately, Africawoman intends to cover the entire continent. The main distribution channel for Africawoman stories is a monthly virtual newspaper of the same name. It is available at www.Africawoman.net. To ensure onward transmission to grassroots women, Africawoman has entered into partnerships with community radio stations that broadcast within the project sites. Special reports tied to international themes are produced when the need arises. Africawoman also doubles up as a training forum for women journalists either starting out in their careers or approaching middle-level management. They are paired with mentors based in the United Kingdom, who help Africa's next generation of topflight writers and editors to fine-tune their skills to world-class standards. Launched in 2001, Africawoman is managed from Nairobi but produced jointly with experts based in Canada and the United Kingdom. ...read more.


Writers often try out different forms of attribution to colour their stories. This is not necessary. A simple "says" or "said" will do, perhaps accompanied by a description of an action that is relevant to capturing the mood of the interview. An example: "You won't believe how long it took," she said, tapping impatiently on her computer. "I can't abide this red tape." As with all good things: use quotes only when necessary. Do not pepper your article with so many quotes that the other essential elements of the story - paraphrasing and analysis - appear almost incidental. Also ensure that you have quotes from a variety of sources. A one-source story is the hallmark of a lazy writer and will immediately be spiked. Colour Whereas Africawoman handles news and information of some gravity, the presentation should be anything but dull and ponderous. We aim to bring alive the people, issues and events, especially considering that many of our readers will probably not have prior knowledge or only limited exposure to the countries and peoples being reported. Painting a pen picture involves the judicial use of description of place and people that adds value to the story. Thus we avoid use of general terms and instead look out for details of facial expression and scenes that vividly capture emotions and the circumstances that our news sources operate in. Tell us what people within the community you are visiting do for a living and something about the traditional lifestyle of the people - whatever is relevant to your story. A word of caution: Do not go overboard in your use of colour or the excess baggage may end up distracting the reader from the real story you want to tell. The Africawoman style is a cross between news reporting and the reader-friendly feature format that is highly readable and, above all, provocative. Language Africawoman uses UK English. ...read more.


Africawoman profiles are expected to be an honest portrayal of the personality - warts and all. As with all other stories, the writer should speak with more than one source. You will have spoken with colleagues, friends and detractors of the person being profiled and place the work they are doing within the wider framework of achieving social change. Do not interview someone and then simply report what she or he tells you. You have to observe the work they do, and report on it. Get anecdotes to spice your story. An example: "When I was growing up, I often felt too short for any great tasks. Too female. Too kind. Too apologetic. My voice was not loud enough. One teacher said to me in form two 'speak loud enough, I am not your mother-in-law!'. He was a great teacher but these words were shocking to me. But the mind has its own limitless horizons and I am glad. " This is what renowned author Yvonne Vera said recently as she reflected on her life in the wake of yet another successful literary endeavour. The little girl who could not speak loud enough has found a way of speaking so loudly and effectively that her voice echoes and reverberates throughout the world. Now a multiple award-winning novelist of international stature, her books, written in English, have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Catalan and Finnish. All of her novels feature strong female characters . . . ." With an imaginative approach like this, it would be difficult to put down the article. The rest of the article proceeds to demonstrate exactly how Vera has put her former teacher to shame as she writes powerful words on the lives and times of powerful female characters. Quotation intros must be used judiciously, though, and only when they are so powerful that they cannot be resisted. Too much use of this device is the hallmark of a lazy writer, however - just the kind who has no place in Africawoman. 2 ...read more.

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