South Africa is home to Africa’s largest and most influential journalism school, based at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. It is also the oldest. Founded by the noted poet Guy Butler, it is a flagship of the campus and its record shows its success in realising the university's motto, 'Where leaders learn'.
Historically, Rhodes journalism serviced mainly South African media, and its graduates have played leading roles in the liberation and ongoing democratization of South Africa. The continuing influence of the school is evident in the fact that over the past year, Rhodes journalism alumni have edited media like Business Day, Financial Mail, Diamond Fields Advertiser, Evening Post, the South African Press Association (SAPA), Radio Algoa News, IOL.co.za, inet.co.za, iafrica.com and many more. Today Rhodes journalism graduates also occupy top management positions in Independent Newspapers, Johnnic, NAIL, M-Net and SABC. In addition, the department has also produced key role-players in policy and regulatory affairs in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and its predecessors, as well as the Government Communication and Information Service and the Department of Communications. Many alumni have become media teachers around Southern Africa.
Since 1995, the department has increasingly served media from Southern and East Africa. This has gone hand-in-hand with a new mission statement for the university, which spells out a vision of "an outstanding internationally-respected academic institution which proudly affirms its African identity and which is committed to democratic ideals, academic freedom, rigorous scholarship, sound moral values and social responsibility".
Currently, 25% of Rhodes' total enrolment consists of international students, almost all from African countries other than South Africa. In the journalism department, besides those 550 reading full-time for one of five degrees, a new part-time Masters course has been put in place in response to demand by media leaders and teachers across the continent. More than 50 students have been in this MA program over the past five years. There have also been numerous short courses for more than 300 working professionals, covering media leadership as well as new technology skills.
Rhodes journalism has a fine track record of producing daily newspapers and websites for major conferences. Already, major media players like Reuters Foundation, SABC, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Nordic-SADC Journalism Centre and the National Community Radio Forum have utilized Rhodes journalism for conferences and courses. As such, these enduring stakeholders are integral to the vision of building and maintaining of the Africa Media Matrix. There is ample space for additional partners to become part of this broad consortium, and to take part in collaborations of numerous kinds with Rhodes journalism.