Crises dominated the news pages in Africa, accounting for 81% of the coverage a new research which convened 25 senior media practitioners from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania foudn. PICTURE: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files.
Crises dominated the news pages in Africa, accounting for 81% of the coverage a new research which convened 25 senior media practitioners from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania foudn. PICTURE: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files.

News about Africa still dominated by crises and politics - research report

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

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SILINDILE NYATHIKAZI

Durban - HARD news, politics, elections and crises dominated the news pages in Africa, accounting for 81% of the coverage.

This was according to new research which convened 25 senior media practitioners from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

The ‘How Africa covers Africa in the media’ report studied the ways African stories are framed in African media outlets, the types of stories prioritised, constraints on reporting on Africa and negative stereotypes of the continent reported in the media. The research was presented by donor collaborative Africa No Filter during a webinar on Wednesday evening.

Key take outs from the report covered the source of news, the nature of the content and the quality of journalism.

It found that non-Africans still dictate the stories Africans hear about themselves, and that almost 63% of all foreign news outlets do not have correspondents in Africa.

“Sources of news are a problem and cause for concern,” said Paula Fray, from frayintermedia of communications, who oversaw the research.

“Wire services and ‘free content’ are key sources, while AFP, BBC and Reuters account for over a quarter of all stories about Africa, resulting in minimal content from African news agencies,'' said Fray.

Chief executive at African News Agency Vasantha Angamuthu said: “The struggle to find a market for African content is very real. Financial constraints are a big barrier to telling African stories and having other media outlets pick up our content. News about Africa is often seen as a nice-to-have. We have to start taking ourselves more seriously if we want the rest of the world to do the same.”

The research analysed over 300 publications and surveyed 63 media editors across the continent, with the aim of finding out how Africa covers Africa.

Providing global insights into the report was chief executive at Tangaza Africa Media Nixon Kariithi, who said that Western media has never got it right from the days of colonisation.

“The West has never had an appreciation for the African. You see this from the way it imports journalists from outside of Africa to cover African stories. There is an ever-widening gap between what they perceive and what is actually happening on the ground,” said Kariithi.

The research also found the voices of African people were rarely covered in the media, and lacked context to the situation on the ground.

But Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa Editor at The Economist, said this was not just an African phenomenon.

"It's normal that everyone in a country would want to hear what the world is saying about them. I’m sitting here in Brexit, Covid Britain and again there will be a hundred columns about how awful Brexit is, but when the New York Times writes an article that says Britain has really messed up Brexit, everyone here is talking about it. But we need to be careful not to fall into lazy, cheesy cliches,” Rosenthal said.

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