Strategies for Dealing with Difficulties During the Commercialization Process at the Pan African News Agency
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The internship program at PANA is essentially a pilot program this year, put together by Jessica Fugate, an American who recently graduated from journalism school in the United States, and Mahtar Ba, the director of marketing at PANA. The idea is to receive foreign journalists or students of journalism in the headquarters' newsroom in Dakar for periods of six to twelve months. Jessica pushed to create the program after finding out about PANA through a professor her senior year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Mahtar was the contact person who helped set it up on the Dakar end. He thought that having an American in the newsroom would help with the new commercial services, namely the International Desk, aimed at North America by offering insights into story choice, news judgement, and basic style differences. By the time I first contacted PANA in August, Jessica already had plans to arrive in Dakar in mid-October. Mahtar told me to call him as soon as I arrived to set up specifics of what the internship would involve. After I got here we talked a little about what I'd be doing, working on stories in English that would be distributed on the World Wide Web, and set up a starting date in the first week of November. My actual work consisted of creating a cast from the regular English service and editing them for an American market. Initially Jessica and I alternated days doing shifts of three to four hours. After she left in February and the weekend service was discontinued, I started a new schedule, coming in two to four days a week. Although the work was sometimes slow, the slow days gave me a good opportunity to talk and listen to journalists in the newsroom about their thoughts on the agency.