At the heart of the FCAEA’s mission is to support, represent and advocate for its members’ interests.
The FCAEA provides a number of services to its members, from arranging social events and briefings, to providing protective equipment on loan and a closed forum where members can exchange information in a safe and private manner. It is also linked with other correspondents’ associations in Africa and actively pursues links to leading media organisations around the world to help its members access a broader community of reporters, editors, photographers and producers.
The FCAEA organises speaking events every few weeks featuring high-profile decision-makers, experts, business leaders and diplomats on areas of key interest to the international press in East Africa. In recent months it has hosted valuable off-record briefings with ambassadors and senior government and business officials as well as on-record briefings by speakers such as Raila Odinga, former prime minister and leader of the Kenyan opposition.
It also hosts high-impact public panel debates, the most recent on conservation and Kenya’s historic ivory burn. It holds regular members’ events at informal venues to support the sense of community among its members and offer an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas regularly.
The FCAEA curates and maintains a closed forum for members to exchange information, advice and contacts on. As much of our correspondents’ work across Africa depends on logistics and responding to a need for timely updates on security and other on-ground conditions, the forum has proved one of the most valuable services to members. The FCAEA Board vets its content and membership, ensuring safety and privacy for its members often discussing sensitive reporting issues.
A weekly newsletter also alerts members to events, deadlines and other calendar items. External organisations like NGOs, government agencies and private-sector players use the FCAEA to contact hundreds of journalists working for international media in East Africa.
The FCAEA hosts a flak jacket owned by the Frontline Freelance Register and a helmet it purchased for its members (with thanks to Safeguard Armour who donated the jacket to FFR and discounted the FCAEA helmet). Members, especially but not exclusively freelancers who don’t have their own Personal Protective Equipment, are free to borrow this under some conditions of care.
The FCAEA has taken on an informal diplomatic role supporting its members who unfairly find themselves in strife while working. The Association became actively involved in this kind of advocacy when Peter Greste, then Al Jazeera’s East Africa correspondent, was arrested and detained in Egypt while providing holiday cover. The FCAEA played a key role in launching the global #FreeAJstaff social media campaign to advocate for the release of Peter Greste and two of his colleagues, and also organised a number of peaceful protests in Nairobi. Peter Greste was released in February 2015, after being imprisoned in Cairo for 400 days.
The Board also lobbies for foreign correspondents’ interests with various regional entities, and maintains relationships with leading international organisations working on issues relating to press freedom and safety.