Media Politics

Africa on Filter

Moky Makura, discussing  How African Media Covers Africa on the Into Africa podcast

There were three key insights that we found. One that the sources of news on Africa in African sources are an issue. We found out about a third but actually a lot more comes from Western US sources, mainly because 63% of everything we spoke to said they do not have correspondents in other African countries so you’re studying in South Africa, you’re reading anything about you know Ghana or Nigeria, you are probably reading a Reuters, AFP, or BBC piece, or you are watching those outlets.

The second key thing we found was the nature of the content, actually, is what we come to expect so if you are sitting in Ghana and you are reading something about Zambia, or either Tanzania, it’s almost 100% going to be feeding that negative stereotypical narrative that you know that Africans have always belaboured, and it’s the fact that you know it’s poverty. Its conflict, its corruption, its disease, the nature of the content, is it basically feeds the harmful stereotypical narratives. And what we’re finding as well.

The third key insight was the quality of journalism, when it comes to stories in Africa was really worrying. One of the key things that picked up, particularly in the coverage of End SARS was that there was very little voice of ordinary citizens. You know when stories were reported on other countries, it was often just you know with either head of state the governor. And in the case of Lagos during End SARS it was really it was either Buhari or it was either the governor of Lagos that was always quoted we very rarely heard what people in the streets were feeling.

And I think the most worrying thing for us was that you looked at where African outlets, got their news was AFP, BBC, and Reuters, and that’s a quarter of all stories came from them but the irony is that BBC is not a Newswire service. And one of the editors actually told us that her journalists would literally sit in front of the TV, or were listening to the radio broadcast and they were typing up their stories based on reports from, you know, global outlets. The challenge we have is that, who is writing this Africa story, like whose lens are we looking through in spoken to people at the BBC and they know that there’s a story that’s written for, you know, international audience that gets into the BBC, sometimes these stories are covered by Africans, and that to me doesn’t actually matter who’s writing the story it’s, who owns the platform.  (Roberts & van Houten, 2021, 17:32)

Devermont, J (Host), Adeoye, A (Guest), Makura, M (Guest), & Adegoke, Y (Guest). (2021, March 5). Africa on Africa (No. 60). In Into Africa. Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Roberts, S., & van Houten, A. (2021). How African Media Covers Africa. Africa No Filter.