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Regional media must show its ‘East African-ness

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Geza Ulole, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. Geza Ulole

    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

    Aug 9, 2010
    Joined: Oct 31, 2009
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    The media in Rwanda is still performing below expectations due to the lack of basic media skills for most of its practitioners. However, I believe that the monthly presidential press conferences have been a great boost to the sector.

    The outstanding characteristic of Pres. Kagame's meetings with the press is that not only do the journalists get a chance to ask him questions for their stories and assignments, they also open up and tell the president about their challenges and he too reciprocates by telling them what he thinks they are doing wrong or right.

    On one occasion the journalists may tell him about ministers not honouring appointments, and he will tell them about how he thinks that a particular media group is doing a good job of covering Africa.

    A few months back, the president raised a rather pertinent issue with the media.
    He expressed his discomfort with the way one regional media giant was covering Rwanda.

    He wondered why, Kenyans and Ugandans were being used to cover Rwanda yet the same media group (Nation Media Group) has a correspondent based in Kigali. He added that this attitude could imply that Rwanda was less East African than other member states.

    I totally agree with the president's observation, although I have to quickly add, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Secretary General of the East African Community, Juma Mwapachu has on several occasions called on the regional media to spearhead the region's integration ambitions. The big question therefore is whether the media has really taken heed of Bwana Mwapachu's call.

    The regional media is definitely growing by leaps and bounds. For the case of the print media, the situation is an extreme opposite to what our friends in the West are experiencing with their papers slowly leaving the shelves for the internet.

    Kenya's Nation Media group has expanded to Uganda and Tanzania while Tanzania's IPP media has continued to hold its grip on the Tanzanian market. In Uganda, the Vision group has grown from just one English newspaper title to several newspapers, radio stations and a TV station and a state of the art printer. Rwanda's Orinfor has just launched a modern print machine.

    The problem, however, is that most of these media institutions have failed to embrace an East African perspective when it comes to coverage of events in the region.

    There is always very little you can know about another EAC nation by reading a regional paper for instance. Just try picking a copy of any national paper say The Daily Monitor to see what it has to say on Burundi to get what I mean.

    Reginald Mengi, Tanzania's media tycoon has always urged the African press not to follow the international media's inclination to portray only the negative aspects of life on the continent. But then again, has his Guardian newspaper done its bit in promoting the region as a community of common aspirations?

    The media in East Africa is guilty of sticking to the negative stereotypical templates used by the Western media when covering regional affairs. It is almost certain that the only time a Rwandan paper will extensively cover other countries is when there is a landslide or riot in Uganda, violence in Kenya or a rebel incursion in Bujumbura.

    Rwanda is more likely to make it in other countries publications when a grenade goes off in the city than for a positive story. Important elections are going on in Burundi and a crucial referendum is set for the Kenyans, but very little of it appears in the papers outside Burundi and Kenya respectively.

    Mengi's EATV and East African Radio are yet to include Rwanda and Burundi as deserving audiences. Nation Media Group still has no correspondent based in Bujumbura and has been accused (rightly) by President Kagame for using Kampala and Nairobi based correspondents to cover affairs of Rwanda.

    By the way, on many occasions, when the term ‘East African Community' is used in some Kenyan and Tanzanian press circles, the implication is Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania not the five members of the region.

    A commentary piece of over a thousand words in Tanzania's Daily News paper titled, "EA Common Market: How ‘common' is it going to be?" (May 27, 2010) by Makwaia wa Kuhenga only talks about Kenya and Tanzania. There is nothing in the story about Rwanda or Burundi.

    The media has to show us its EAC credentials by giving us more coverage of the region even when there is no disaster. The fact that the EAC is made up of five countries should be evident in the press. How can we be expected to integrate amid all this ignorance?

    Source: Columnist New Times
  2. Wacha1

    Wacha1 JF-Expert Member

    Aug 10, 2010
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    Who cares about them nobody ndio sababu hakuna anayeandika kuhusu wao. Huwezi kumlazimisha ng'ombe anywe maji hata kama umempeleka mtoni.