Thursday, November 30, 2006
Blogging and Media in Africa
I was privileged to be among the team of Mass Communication students to participate in tele-conferencing at the American Embassy, Kampala.

The tele-conferencing that began at 6:00pm East African time, had participants from Makerere University (MUK) and Islamic University (IU)with the American colleagues from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC).

The theme for our discussion was “Blogging and Media in Africa”. Blogging being new to Africa, it propelled more questions on how ethical and objectives blogs can be.

Kiiza Benjamin, a participant in the discussion articulates, “Blogs can be abused, for instance by the information-spinners or propagandists and most cases it raise more questions on clarity.”

Fears for blog-sphere to wipe-out journalism took center of the discussion for some good minutes but later Abdullahi Boru from Makerere University commented that, “Blog-o- phobia has to be substituted by blog-o-mania. Journalist will not run away from the new technology instead they should do their part professionally”.

Hard material like Academics and news are blogged not forgetting sensational or un-researched material. Journalism students or journalist too have to blog, but what is the impact of their blogging?

Away from blogging to the media in Africa, Namigadde Olivia tabled the tilted state of the media in Africa. Clarity and accuracy is almost becoming a forgotten characteristic of journalism as tabloids [tabloidism] gains ground in Uganda in particular. Apart from the tabloids in Uganda market like 'Red Pepper', 'Black Mamba', 'kamunye' just to mention a few, the main stream newspapers have adopted tabloidism for instance, 'Bukedde'.

Press freedom to the SIUC counterparts was an easy thing to talk about and how it is practiced in America. For Africa the experience is reverse or uncertain as Archie Luyimbazi, Broadcasting Lecturer in Makerere University.

In the discussion, a blames from one of Islamic university student, was to SIUC team, “Why does CNN, AP, Reuters, VOA and many others International news agencies get negative news from Africa, yet we have positive things that are news worthy that are not covered?”

“But what is in your newspapers today (29th, wed, 2006), I am in the ‘New Vision’ Newspaper website and the headlines are Saleh Grilled on FDC Funds, Missing Budo boy in Nairobi, HIV increase worries M7, UN, is that positive news?”, William Recktenwald.

The debate became more academic where values of news like prominence, controversy, impact and oddity were pushed to be the source of bad news. As it is said “if it bleeds it leads and negative news is best news”. The issue of bad news taking the lead went unresolved.

The pre-recorded warning for people to leave the embassy by 7:00pm cut short our interaction, but, well it was good discussion and most issues were tackled.
posted by ombui at 5:16 AM | Permalink |


  • At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Hey Jared,

    Very good writing here...I feel the journalists and media houses should not be threatened by blogs. In fact, in my view the blogs are an outlet for more people to write and put their ideas out there. With specifc reference to students of mass communication at Makerere University, this presents them with an opportunity to write instead of competing for the little space in New Vision and The Monitor and have most of their 'stories' spiked because they don't fit in with their 'style' or 'editorial policy' or other reasons such as 'newsroom politics'.

    These media houses should think of blogs as an alternative source for articles.


  • At 7:40 AM, Blogger countryboy

    You presented this very well, Jared. But i don't think blogs pose a threat to the newspaper industry, not at least in Uganda. Most bloggers here don't discuss serios issues on their blogs. Instead they post mere chitchat for entertainment purposes. Since i began blogging, i've discovered that blogs that look into the real issues on democracy, politics, health, commerce, name it, are less popular. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact many Ugandan bloggers have little time on the internet.
    About Africa being portrayed in the negative sense, i think it's not true. All areas: the good and bad are covered but the negative side is given prominence because it's what catches the eye, it's what sells the newpspapers. Remember the newspaper industry is a business that shrives on profit. So the extra-ordianry will always carry the day.