Gates Foundation partners with African media group AllAfrica.com

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has entered into another media partnership, this time with AllAfrica.com, to enhance international and African coverage of global health and development issues.

AllAfrica.com describes itself as the “largest electronic distributor of African news and information worldwide,” a multi-media content service provider, systems technology developer and a mega-aggregator of news publishing an average of 1,000 stories a day.

AllAfrica.com is headquartered in the island nation Mauritius (one of Africa’s wealthier countries, and last known home of the dodo). It had this to say about getting a $2.3 million from the Gates Foundation to expand its development coverage:

“These stories will reach policy makers, opinion leaders, NGOs and a wide public across Africa and around the world,” said AllAfrica Global Media co-founder and chair, Amadou Mahtar Ba, who also heads the African Media Initiative (also partly funded by Gates). “Besides being a voice for Africa, the project will support our media partners by providing content,  and by offering opportunities for journalists to expand their experiences and their capabilities.”

AllAfrica says the Gates grant will allow its reporters based out of offices in South Africa, Senegal, Liberia and Kenya to “roam the continent in search of mistakes to avoid and examples to emulate.”

In addition to producing more development stories, AllAfrica said it intends to also expand the use of multimedia materials, blogs, photo essays and other means intended to creating dialogue on Africa’s efforts to fight poverty, reduce inequities and improve health.

“At a time when funds for international development must compete with other pressing priorities,” said AllAfrica’s head of operations and west Africa director Rougui Diaw, “it is vital to showcase the many successes, without ignoring continuing challenges.”

AllAfrica.com, the online successor to the non-profit Africa News Service, has a long history of collaboration with other news organizations such as the BBC, NPR and many other major news organizations. The online news site said the Gates grant will allow it to also strive to increase such collaboration as an online news organization, for big media as well as for individual journalists.

Note: There are concerns about these media partnerships — given that the Gates Foundation is also one of the biggest stories in global health and development. I’ve written about these concerns before and intend to follow up on this issue soon. Any thoughts or questions you have, let me know.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.