Foremost publisher and media ace, Dr Marcel Mbamalu, has been nominated to participate in the 2023 Jefferson Fellowships. Dr. Mbamalu is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Prime Business Africa, which also happens to be the only media outfit selected from Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
The Fellowship goes with the theme, Inequality in the US and Asia: Drivers, Consequences, and Policy Responses. It will run for three weeks between October 08, 2023 and October 28, 2023. The destinations for the Fellowship will be Hawaiʻi, Hong Kong and Japan. Ten other Fellows were selected from news organisations from the USA, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, which have two fellows each. Other countries are the Philippines, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Fiji, with one fellow each.
According to the Fellowship schedule released by Emilie Parry of the EWC, the three-week dialogue, reporting, and hybridized travel program “will contextualize and compare widening disparities of income, wealth, and opportunity within the United States and Asia. The program will enable journalists to better understand the distributional consequences of technological change, globalization, and market reforms, which arguably favor skilled over unskilled labor, capital over labor, and urban and coastal areas over rural areas”. The journalist will also deliberate on the relationship between inequality and access to education, healthcare, financing and credit, housing, and infrastructure. The discussion will be done in the context of the main drivers of inequality such as gender-related disparities in opportunities as well as racial, ethnic, and nativist discrimination. The three-week parley will also explore the effects of the politicization of inequality on the disparities in public trust and the ways in which affected countries are responding.
The inequality situation in the US will form a test case for the Fellows as inequality has risen to a 50 year high despite low rates of poverty and unemployment. The important factors in this irony will come into play, for example, the US states worst and least affected by inequality and the impacts of policies, institutions, and demographics in the disparity. The program schedule also indicates that “The 2023 Jefferson Fellowships program will begin in Honolulu with expert-led sessions on inequality in the US and the Asia Pacific region.
Journalists will additionally share perspectives from their own countries on the drivers, consequences, and policy responses related to inequality through topic papers and presentations. Site visits in Honolulu will also provide opportunities to observe how growing inequity is affecting one of United States’ most racially and ethnically diverse states and how policymakers and grassroots organizations are responding”.
The Asia region attracts interest in the program as inequality has also worsened despite remarkable economic growth as typified by Hong Kong seen as “one of the world’s richest and most inequitable cities”. On the positive side of inequality, Japan will be a destination for the Fellows, who will study the country’s example as the “most equitable developed countries due to income and inheritance tax policies”.
The Jefferson Fellowships are powered by a substantial grant from The Freeman Foundation, which is also boosted by contributions from news organizations, foundations, US Embassies, and the East-West Center.
Dr Mbamalu’s selection speaks to the rising profile of Prime Business Africa. Dr Mbamalu was also part of the 15-man global team that covered the US 2020 presidential elections, which produced Joe Biden as President.