Africa coverage 'too negative'
April 12 2005
American media coverage of Africa has concentrated on bad news to the exclusion of more positive developments, hurting investment in and aid to the world's poorest continent, African leaders say.
A survey of African coverage in five prominent US publications found little mention of the fewer civil wars, South Africa's economic growth or increased access to education, a panel of 11 former presidents told a Johannesburg news conference.
"Negative perceptions lead to negative outcomes - lower levels of aid and lower investments," said former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, who led the country out of decades of civil war.
The survey studied coverage of Africa between 1994 and 2004 in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and US News and World Report.
Disasters in Somalia, Rwanda and West Africa dominated, while transitions to democracy in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and elsewhere were ignored, they said.
The leaders - from Ghana, Tanzania, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Zambia, Benin, Botswana, Kenya and Burundi - said they were not calling for journalists to cover up Africa's problems but for them to report the positive things as well.
"Coverage of Africa... is, at best, dismissive of the continent's progress and potential," Chissano said after the meeting at the University of the Witwatersrand.
"At worst, coverage disregards recent trends towards democratisation, betraying an almost contemptuous lack of interest in the potential and progress being achieved on the continent," he said.
Former US diplomat Charles Stith of Boston University, which conducted the research, said US journalists had ignored huge steps forward during the period studied.
"The period was chosen because there was a distinct and powerful trend along democratic lines and to free market reform on the continent," he said.
"The coverage of Africa was overwhelmingly negative." - Sapa-AP http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=68&art_id=vn20050412072211826C858204