Fulbright scholar faces risky journalism ventures

Amy Maciejowski

Amidst the juicy baobab fruits and plentiful plátanos, among the African tribal dance and the hot sun setting over the desert landscape, there is a world on this continent that goes unnoticed.  It is with this picturesque setting in mind that Ramata Soré discussed the difficulties of investigative journalism in Africa to Quinnipiac students on Wednesday, March 24.

Soré delivered a presentation entitled “Is Investigative Journalism a Threat or a Challenge to African Government?” to an enthralled audience in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room. Many of the attendees were either professors or aspiring journalists.

“Soré’s speech made me open my eyes a little more about what’s really going on,” freshman Catherine Boudreau said.  “It also made me think about actually doing investigative journalism.”

Originally from Burkina Faso, Africa, Ramata Soré is a Fulbright Foreign Student Scholar and is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at Quinnipiac University.

“I invited Ramata to speak because she has so much to offer our community with her insights into journalism but also in the wider goal of bringing global perspectives to the University,” Graduate Director of Journalism and Interactive Communications Richard Hanley said. “Students should consider the difficulties journalists face in reporting the news in countries without First Amendment protections that we enjoy in the U.S.”

Soré believes the biggest difficulty African journalists face is the lack of a legal framework.  According to her, there are many taboo issues that journalists encounter on a daily basis.  In Africa, however, they are both taboo and life-threatening.

She spoke about how there is a lack of investigative journalists within Africa because many are scared of this threat to their well-being.  That’s why Soré believes that online journalism can be “a real opportunity for investigative journalism. It will give writers a chance to help bypass censorship.”

By establishing an online paper in Africa, Soré hopes to “help my people and my country.”

In 2006, Soré nabbed the second place prize for the Africa Information Society Initiative (AISI)-OSIWA Best Female Reporter for her account on how the Information Communication Technology (ICT) can remain sensitive to environmental protection, and still empower communities of women.

“Everyone knows about it, but no one wrote about it,” Soré said. “No one should take for granted freedom of press and speech. It should be a perpetual advocacy, an eternal vigilance, and a constant commitment to make sure this freedom is guaranteed and enforced and at the time, we need to advocate for new freedoms.”