Emmanuel Yegon, a mobile journalist and trainer, reflects on his findings of what efforts must be taken to truly transform Africa’s narrative for the better, so that we can have agency, authority, and pride over our stories. Read the snippet below.
A study conducted by Africa No Filter and The African Narrative in 2019 looked at how Africa was covered in the U.S media. It found that Africa was broadly depicted negatively and as a country and not a continent with 54 countries. Crime had the most mentions (16%), and over one-third (35%) of African mentions in scripted entertainment were about crime. The report also found that 63% of outlets surveyed don’t have correspondents in other countries in Africa, 1/3 of all coverage on Africa was from non-African sources, and 81% of the stories analyzed were classified as “hard news” e.g. conflicts and crises driven by events. 13% of the news focused specifically on political violence, civil unrest, armed conflict.
The East African Media Festival hosted by the Media Challenge Initiative in Kampala Uganda in December of 2022 discussed the subject of narrative change. CNN’s Larry Madowo, Africa No Filter’s Moky Makura and Africa Institute of Investigative Journalism’s Solomon Serwanjja shared their experiences and what they are doing in their respective spaces to change how Africa’s narrative is told. Madowo is an African who was born and raised in Africa and brings his own lived reality to the coverage of the continent. Studies have shown that while the west has used dominant frames to report about Africa, we also need to look inward at what journalists and storytellers in Africa are doing to achieve this goal.
The findings of a report on how African media reports about Africa are damning, but efforts are being made by individuals and organizations to change the situation. Bird Story Agency produces and supports African journalists to produce solutions stories from the different countries in Africa, and Africa No Filter works on narrative change. The report found that there are five key frames or lenses through which most stories about Africa in the media are told, which are poverty, poor leadership, corruption, conflict and disease. African media outlets do not have correspondents in the rest of Africa, so they are dependent on Reuters, BBC and AFP and those institutions were covering Africa in a particular way. African readers are reading about each other is equally as bad, so it is important to look at our own media and how we write about ourselves and about other Africans.
The full article is published by Emmanuel Yegon at yegonemmanuel.com. Emmanuel is a trained communicator, passionate storyteller with a bias toward smartphone storytelling. He is the Co-Founder and Communications Director at Mobile Journalism Africa. His platform is dedicated to human interest stories and features.