Global media coverage of Africa to be placed under the spotlight
The Global Media Index, which will track and measure the way Africa is covered by top global media outlets has been developed by the University of Cape Town (UCT), Media Monitoring Africa, Africa No Filter and the Africa Center.
The Global Media Index will put 20 leading global media platforms under the microscope to analyse how they tell Africa’s stories, whose voices are being heard, which topics are prioritised and how they are covered. The Global Media Index will also highlight best practices in reporting on the continent.
Executive Director of Africa No Filter, Moky Makura said very few institutions are as powerful as the global news media, because as storytellers to millions of audiences, the news media set agendas for policy-making, frame political debate and shape the global public perceptions. “The Global Media Index is part of our watchdog role and is designed to show what’s right rather than wrong with reporting on Africa. There is progress, and we have seen evidence that global news outlets have become more thoughtful about their coverage, but we are not entirely there, and our hope is for this index to shine a beacon on who is doing this right,” added Makura.
Chief Executive Officer of The Africa Center, Uzodinma Iweala called the Index necessary and timely. “If we are going to change narratives about the continent and its Diaspora so that they are more representative and reflective, we must have a baseline understanding of what those narratives are and where they reside. This Index is a step in the right direction and it will help to create a new qualitative and quantitative approach to understanding how journalists report on Africa and its people in addition to where the messages they share are most resonant in the international media landscape,” emphasised Iweala.
Professor in Media Studies at UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies, Professor Herman Wasserman said the objective is not to promote uncritically positive sunshine journalism, but rather to showcase well-crafted, progress investigated, ethically sound and impactful journalism that takes the African continent seriously in all its diversity and complexity, empowers African citizens to participate in democratic participation and meaningful conversations about the continent and contributes to a better understanding of African societies, politics and culture within a globalised world.
The project will draw on a range of methods, including content analysis, institutional analysis and interviews with journalists working for global media outlets. The aim is to establish the dominant themes, narratives and journalistic practices shaping the image of Africa. The Index is important as one-third of all African stories in news outlets on the continent are sourced from foreign news services.