Reporting Africa

Baffour Ankomah


When opening this conference, Professor Lizette Rabe quoted a statistic that struck a chord with me.
In a six-month period between March and August 2000, the TransAfrica Forum in the USA had counted 89 stories on Africa published by The New York Times and Washington Post. Of the 89, 75 were negative, and 63 of the 89 were about conflict in Africa.
What this statistic does is to portray in a small way the massive problem of how Africa is reported by the Western media, and which we, the African media, sometimes reflect and amplify in our reporting of the continent, by mimicking the Western media.
No right-thinking African will ever deny that conflict does happen in Africa. However, the problem with the negative reporting is that it does not put the raw facts in context.
Africa is a continent of 53 countries. It is the most variegated continent on Earth. Conflict is part and parcel of human nature, of life. In that context, Africans would not be human if conflict did not happen on this huge, variegated continent.

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