Friday, October 19, 2012

New Newspaper in Equatorial Guinea has Journalistic and Teaching Missions

  Journalism professor and students produce independent publication

Professors and students at the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE) have launched an independent newspaper that has a mission to inform the public and train a new generation of journalists.

Bernardino Ndze Biyoa, editor of the independent newspaper El Lector, is a professor of communications at UNGE’s Malabo campus.

“We saw that with El Lector, we could do something different. That is, working on the same subject matters as other media, but with a different editorial line, more objective and directed to the population,” he said.

Ndze Biyoa describes the government’s response to El Lector as “very positive.” The government reaches out to El Lector for coverage of issues and events at home and abroad, and the newspaper counts most government ministers and President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as regular readers.

“We are working very well together,” said Ndze Biyoa. “We have not had any problems.”

El Lector also has an educational mission because reporters are college students studying journalism. Journalism is a relatively new profession in Equatorial Guinea, and most of the people in the national media have not been trained in the craft of news reporting and writing. As a university professor, Ndze Biyoa works with journalism students to give them practical experience through the newspaper.

“We go over the theory in class and practice on the work they do at the newspaper. We select the best pieces and we publish them,” He said.

Ndze Biyoa says that El Lector’s fundamental challenge is economic. He started the newspaper with personal funds and support from friends. To meet current expenses, El Lector seeks advertising and news from companies in Equatorial Guinea and sells the paper at kiosks, grocery stores and other locations in the country

“The revenue we make, we need to leave it mostly for the paper to keep it running, Mr. Ndze Biyoa said. “When there’s something left over, we distribute it among the writers. At the moment, they don’t get a paycheck; we incentivize them to continue to work. If we had the resources, we would have salaries and everyone would get a normal paycheck.”

Ndze Biyoa says he wants to create a website to be able to reach people in Europe and Asia. “It’s something we are working on for next year, and we’re trying to save money. For instance, if we had 2 million CFAs, next year we could have a website.”

El Lector is currently published twice a month and provides social, economic, and cultural news. It was established a year and-a-half ago as an effort to provide more independent and non-governmental focused news to Equatoguinean citizens.