Monday, September 17, 2012

The Uphill Struggle - Crafting African Media?



The Uphill Struggle - Crafting African Media?
The Western Media broadcasting about Africa is characterized by pessimism and cynicism. Africa has been severely and unfairly criticized by them since the colonial era. The media in Africa themselves are the victim of the attack. Being immature, economically weak and unorganized they are unable to defend their status, not to mention the continent’s image.
Problems are not unique for Africa; a lot of western countries are experiencing racial tension, drug trafficking and gang warfare, not to mention the recent turmoil due to the financial crisis. Peace, democracy and development are not unique to them; many parts of Africa are quiet peaceful and are experiencing steady economic growth. But the Western Media moguls take their cameras to the face of Africa only when the output is negative. And it looks Africans’ story will continue to be distorted unless the continent develops its own Al-Jazeera, Press TV or New York Times. 
The challenge African journalists have to overcome collectively is this unfair representation of the continent by the Western Media. Therefore, it is up to the African professionals and leaders to shake off this image of a failed continent.
However, this uphill struggle requires the firm stand of the media and commitment of all journalists to the ideology of African spirit. There must be an underlying ideology to which all media in the continent stand for. This ideology can serve as a hub that offers content to all media in the continent. And this is what African Media is. Not only the underlying ideology but also the core values should characterize the African media. The core values of African media shall include image building, promoting development, enhancing democracy and fighting corruption.
Image Building
In the eyes of the Western Media, the image of Africa was primitive before European interference. They dare to claim the credit of African civilization. But history does not prove their claim. Rather what history shows is that Africa is the origin of human beings and the birth of civilization. The Axumite civilization before 3000 years in Ethiopia and the pyramids in Egypt signify the opposite. Mali and Nigeria had highly complex civilizations prior to European intervention in Africa. These and others are as such untold stories. Therefore, history can be used as the stepping stone for the image building process.
Had it not been for the biased Western Media, the contemporary Africa could have got ample airtime and space for its successes. There are lots of progresses in politics, economy, and social life. Nowadays, almost all countries, including Somalia, held elections; civil wars are at minimum level; the continent is registering an average of five percent economic growth and huge development projects are undergoing.
If the media in Africa take their appropriate duty, they can begin to correct the misrepresentation and draw the world’s attention to this diverse continent. They should represent local and African issues to the world on behalf of the continent and foster African culture and heritage. Thus, not to live with its bad image Africa needs a knight in shining armor; that is African Media.
Promoting Development
If it is to solve Africa’s problem, the media in Africa should focus on good news. When developments are taking place in any of the countries, we need our cameras to target them. The African Media must imbibe the notion of pointing out the positive aspects of things or accomplishments of African people and governments. The media should be there where social and economical developments are changing the life of citizens. Africa’s endeavor to find solutions to its problems and the success registered by countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria should be headlines.
This does not mean African media should not report failures and malfunctions of governments or local administrations. Rather it must not hesitate to name and shame as it enhances development. But journalists must not forget their intention is promoting development and the way they present the problem should be solution inclusive and far from sensationalism.
Enhancing Democracy and Fighting Corruption
As one of the basic instruments of development is human power, violation of democratic and human rights hinders Africa’s journey to prosperity. Hence, African Media must work hard to promote democratic society which breeds accountability and development. Corruption is the other spot that journalists of the African Media should struggle. Educating the public to create a corruption free citizen on one hand, African Media should uncover wrong doings by public or private organizations.       
No doubt that the above perspectives constitute a kind of media which the continent deserves. But the media are not capable of doing it now. The media in Africa are neither strong nor independent enough to discharge their responsibilities. To solve the problems in quality of reporting, organizational structure and media management there must be African borne solution. Therefore, African Media, apart from the ideology it follows should work to build its capacity.
To summarize, there is no doubt Africa is poor and backward. It would be foolish to deny facts that are abundantly clear. I am simply driving home the point that a lot of good news is deliberately gone unreported. Therefore Africa needs its own media which have its own ideology and working principles.
This implies the journalists will have certain subjectivities that influence the way they report; which is different from the subjectivities that a European journalist may have. These subjectivities are likely to possess an African-centered approach towards news that they report. Of course there are some pan African outlets like New African and Business Africa. But it needs to augment these positive beginnings in to hefty achievements.
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