‘In the end, quality journalism will prevail’

Photo source: BBC
Photo source: BBC

The London Africa Media Network organised an event to discuss the media across Africa last week – ‘arguing a business case for sustainability and independence.’

A few comments that stayed with me:

> The best-performing graduates are not drawn to journalism.
> Media laws tend to restrict the flow of capital into the industry.
> Journalism is still a dangerous profession. It’s life-threatening for many that take it up.
> State officials tend not to see quality journalism as necessary to nation-building.
> There often is a blurring of the lines between politics/politicians and media ownership.
> We need to think of different solutions.
> To be sustainable, the media needs to be investigative, independent¹, and hard-hitting.
> Running a media organisation is about critical mass/economies of scale; collaborating with other media houses where necessary, for example, on distribution.
> Diversification of revenue streams is key.²
> Media across the continent is polarised. It’s dividing rather than uniting. An understanding of the different historical contexts (e.g. political) is key to shedding more light on why this is the case.
> Be aware of the internet/social media as a source of MISinformation.
> It’s crucial that the gap between media content and development policy is narrowed.³
> In the end, quality journalism will prevail.°

¹‘Independent’ from what? We often say ‘independent’ to mean ‘independent from negative government or big business influence’ which I agree with though no media body can be truly ‘independent.’ Each journalist will be biased towards their own worldview, surely. We need to be more specific about what we mean by ‘independent.’ Just thinking aloud…

²Creativity needed while maintaining high-quality content.

³Eric Chinje of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation gave the example of some media training he gave to journalists in Nigeria. He told them to discuss and come up with a list of 10 of the most pressing issues affecting their country. After reporting back, it came to his attention that only one of the issues they mentioned appeared prominently in the big Nigerian newspapers. Media content reflecting the country’s development priorities? A simple yet telling exercise.

°That is my sincere hope too.

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