It is quite simple: If they portrayed Africa in a positive light, diasporan africans would be emigrating there by the millions and then the west would lose its entire low paid workforce. Can you imagine the economic catastrophe that a diasporan exodus would create in the western world? That's the reason why the media can never show the positive side of Africa. It's the only way to ensure that Africans in the west never want to go there, much less emigrate and so far their strategy has been 100% effective. Hort
Media reporting Africa
Tuesday, June 3, 2008,
How many times, as an African, have you watched a Western TV report about your country, shaken your head in disgust and exclaimed: “But my country is definitely more than that, it’s not just slums! Why can’t they show the positive side as well?” How many times have you had the same feeling after reading about your country in a Western newspaper or magazine? Well, there are many reasons explaining why the Western media chose to report Africa in such negative tones. This month our extended cover story is devoted to examining some of the reasons. So please sit back and be prepared to challenge your opinion. Whatever you thought about Africa, you must think again. This lead piece is by our editor, Baffour Ankomah.
The negative reporting of Africa by the Western media is a subject very dear to the hearts of discerning Africans. It is a subject that New African has covered extensively before (in our July/August 2000 issue). But not much has changed in the eight years since we last tackled it, and the recent hyperbolic reporting of the Kenyan and Zimbabwean elections gives us even more cause to revisit the subject. Why was the Western media so interested in the Zimbabwean elections but just gave a passing glance to both the Nigerian and Sierra Leonean elections held last year? More so when 200 people died in pre- and post-election violence in Nigeria? Why, as they claim to be “the paragons of objectivity and balance”, do they rarely extend this to Africa in their coverage of the continent?
Why, even, when they say they are against African presidents entrenching themselves in power, do they seldom tackle the longest reigning presidents on the continent? Omar Bongo of Gabon has been in power since December 1967 – that makes 41 long years; Muammar AlGathafi of Libya has been in power since September 1969 – 39 years; Obiang Nguema Mbasongo of Equatorial Guinea has been in power since August 1979 – 29 years; Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been in power since October 1981 – 27 years; even Paul Biya in Cameroon has been in power since November 1982 – 26 years, and he has recently won parliamentary endorsement to change the constitution for a second time to enable him to run again in 2011; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been in power since April 1980 – 28 years. So, why has only one of these long-reigning presidents, Mugabe, become the bête noire of the Western media and the rest are seldom talked about? To fully understand the whys, we must first understand the dynamics or modus operandi of the Western media. Without it, you will never truly know why the Western media behaves the way it does. On 12 June last year, in one of his farewell speeches as British prime minister, Tony Blair, seeing the sun setting slowly on his political career, gave vent to some of his inner feelings, this time not on education but on the media.
“The fear of missing out means today’s media more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes, it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out … The final consequence of all this is that it is rare today to find balance in the media,” Blair said in a speech in which he also quoted the long-gone British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, as having said: “Power without responsibility has been the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” Without knowing the dynamics driving the Western media, you will wrongly think that today’s media behaves much like Baldwin’s harlot. But throughout the printing age or since the beginning of newspapers in Europe, the Western media has always been true to its core beliefs – follow the flag or government lead in foreign policy matters; objectivity and balance end where national interest begins; ideological leaning determines the size and play of domestic reporting; advertisers (and to some extent, readers) pull the strings from behind the scenes; historical baggage, political and economic interests determine the reporting of Africa and other foreign lands, etc, etc.