Factors affecting News Reporting in East Africa. A Focus on the "Ethiopian Herald" and Kenyan "Daily Nation"

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2016

105 Pages, Grade: Very Good






Table 1: News value



1.1. Background of the Study
1.2. Statement of the problem
1.3. Objective of the study
1.4. Research questions
1.5. Significance of the study
1.6. Delimitation of the study
1.7. Limitation of the study

2.1. News defined
2.2. News reporting and non-representation
2.3. Domesticating news reporting li
2.5. News value and representation of Africa
2.6. Journalism models in Africa
2.7. Ethicts and news reporting
2.8. Traditional Vs. New journalism theories
2.9. Theoritical framework of the study

3.1. Method of the study
3.2. Research Setting, Population and Selection Procedures

4.1. News selection
4.2. Contextualizing news selection criteria
4.3. Bad news reporting
4.4. Why negative news production
4.5. News reporting in Africa and impact of local and global organizations
4.6. What does it take to report about Africa?

5.1. Summary
5.2. Conclusions
5.3. Research implications



First this researcher would like to thank his advisor Dr. Getachew Sahilemariam the genuine encouragements and constructive comments. His guidance and advice had been a profound impetus to complete this research well ahead of deadlines.

The corrections, advices and supports of Dr. Mohammed Hassen, Dr. Kidist Gebreselassie, Dr. Samuel Tefera and my brother Kalleab Belachew (M.A.) had been a marvelous addition into the researcher’s efforts. The researcher, hence, would like to extend his deepest respect and appreciation to all of them! The researcher is also very obliged for my kind hearted friends, Luelseged Worku, Helen Omukoko, Owuor Henery, and Kibret Abebe for easing the toughest condition he was confronted with during the data gathering stage, particularly for their prompt collaborations while data had been collected from Kenya.

Finaly extraordinary gratitude also goes to the researcher’s spouse Eyerusalem Teshome for her care and supports in many respects. Our son Ezana Worku had also been so kind and calm boy at times when his father was so engrossed in his works. A handful of thanks also go to Atsede Ayele, Teshome W/Micheal and Tsege T/Wold for their love and encouragements.


Table 1: News value

Table 2: African journalism models.

Table 3: The three models: Media system characteristics.


Figure 1: EH responses to news selection criteria creates discrepancy

Figure 2: EH responses to news selection criteria create misrepresentations

Figure 3: DN responses to news selection criteria creates discrepancy

Figure 4: DN responses to news selection criteria create misrepresentations

Figure 5: EH Response to fitting news selection criteria to social, economic and cultural background

Figure 6: DN Response to fitting news selection criteria to social, economic and cultural background.

Figure 8: DN responses to news making desire ofjournalists

Figure 9: EH responses to readership increment as per negative news

Figure 10: EH responses to journalists fit news stories to interest of local/global audience for sake of reward

Figure 11 : DN responce to readership increment as per negative news

Figure 12: ND responces to journalists fit news stories to interest of local/global audience for sake of reward

Figure 13: EH Responses to issues such as slavery, colonialism and globalization are considered when reporting Africas problems

Figure 14: DN responses to issues such as slavery, colonialism and globalization are considered when reporting African's problems

Figure 15: EH and DN respondents perceptions of cause of conflict in Africa


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten





This research investigated into the factors that detract news reporting in East Africa: Focusing on the Ethiopian Herald and Kenyan Daily Nation. To attain this objective, mixed research approach had been employed. More specifically, in-depth interview, questionnaire and content analysis were integrated. The data then were analyzed concurrently using simple descriptive method and narration. The results, therefore, have shown that there are internal and external factors that detract news reporting. News value, perception of journalists, and editorial interests are found major internal factors that create detraction while government influences, NGOs and other private profit making companies are identified as external factors. To mend these detractive factors the newsrooms need to work based on their editorial policies and need to ensure their editorial independence. African academia of journalism and newsrooms in general need to work in close proximity and better hammer on what African journalism should look like. Equally, press freedom is vital to build a sustainable nation-state. Thus, governments have to leave adequate space to media people so that they can carry out their jobs freely and professionally.



1.1. Background of the Study

Africa, the second largest continent in the world whose population size is estimated to be over one billion, UNDESA (2015), has been through various social, political and economic upheavals which in turn shaped and reshaped the life style of the people of the continent in various ways. Iliffe (2009) for instance wrote that the advent of transatlantic slave trade which had befallen in massive scales shocked the development of the people and throw them in a chain of problems M’baye (2006) and Rodney (1973). Ilife (2009) also supports the argument goes: “Africa was not undreveloped at the beginning of the Atlantic trade; its populations had demographical, climatological, and agricultural conditions that allowed them to develop in their own contexts. ”

However, as its important human resource left the continent to the plantations which were located off the cost of Atlantic, and the engagement of the remaining strong groups in the lucrative business, of raiding villages, aiming at getting more captives than developing their craft and cultivating their lands, accounted their shares for the continent’s underdevelopment. This era elapsed 400 years according to Abramova (1979).

The period of colonialism that compressed Africa with its heavy yoke from 19th to 20th centuries ended up in converting the population into slaves in their own lands, Boahen (1985). Not only that the people were also forced to change their age long religions into Christianity. Their knowledge, wisdom, skills and the likes had been pushed to the walls and were forced to imagine their world anew. Mudimbe (1988) portrays the scenario more clearly as he said, “Colonialists have all tended to organize and transform non-European areas into fundamentally European constructs.” The colonizing scheme had also gone in three ways which together resulted in facilitating the colonializing process which he put them as “the domination of physical space, the reformation of native’s minds and the integration of local economic histories into the western perspective”.

However, WWII and its impacts had thrown a beam of light of decolonization for Africans, as scholars like Babou (2010) and Ali Mazrui (1980) noted. Though Africans succeeded in bringing political freedom in the 60’s and 70’s which is termed as the golden ages of Africa, the economic and social domination of the West did not cease there. It rather passed the ball to a new social phenomenon, globalization.

In recent days, globalization has spreaded its self both in its depth and breadth throughout the world in all its forms, be it social, economic, political or whatever. Still, this phenomenon is pressing Africa, a continent that has not been well prepared to cope with its adverse impacts (Ibrahim, 2013).

As the slave trade era ruined Africa’s demographic development and its security immunity making the people to remain so weak in defending themselves from colonialism. Colonialism itself has put a stumbling block for Africans in a way that they remain unable to defend the adverse impacts of globalization. Africans are now an all time students without being source of knowledge. Africans has already adopted western education without contextualizing the essence against their background. Africa did not get time to build or rebuild its own social institutions, thus education, health system, law, political administration and so on are inherited from the colonial system.

Africa is not rich in sorts of policies that protect its workers, consumers, and environment in general. In addition, the protection of civil rights is also weak. To the contrary, Africa, is still in a civil strife, and is still lingering in poverty and political instability.

These dynamics has made the continent’s progress to be an uphill journey due to the fact that all sort of knowledge, technology and the likes are imported. Thus, this research would attempt to look into factors that affect news reporting in the selected East African countries and attempts to contribute its modest share in the existing discussion of African journalism after critically investigating factors that affect news reporting in the selected countries.

1.2. Statement of the problem

The concept ‘global village’ was first appeared in Marshall McLuhan’s book (1962). He forecast ‘a single constricted space resonant with tribal drums.’ The development of electric technology and instantaneous movement of information were forces he ascribed for the creation of global village. Though his prophesy is coming true, his “drum beat” metaphor is far from being correct on many accounts. The “tribal” drum beats of Africa, for instance, are forced to leave all the spaces to the drum beats of the global North—be this language, technology, education, dressing

Journalism, as part and parcel of mass communications, is a great catalytic factor in the creation of ‘the global village’ as media outlets have the advantage of communicating information from a source to a larger audience through print and electronic means. The contents in globalization have much to do with the purpose of mass media, thus without mass media, globalization would be impossible Babran (2008).

Some scholars go even further in emphasizing the significance of media and consider the mass media as the main player in the globalization process. They regard the media not just as a mere instrument, rather as an identity in its own right, which could compete with national governments in respect to its power and influence to alter the nature and essence of human societies, Babran (2008).

The investigation of factors that detract journalists’ news reporting is; therefore, need to be carried out in the framework of globalization, which is much driven by the global North. Because, journalism theory and practice is much dominated by Western theories, and it inturn has recreated a Western conception of the world. In other words, journalism is now serving the western community where the theories are studied. It is evident that the theories and practices of journalism are highly in consonance with the concept’s origin—i.e. the West’s life style and their perception of people who have a different color of skin and eyes. The academic trend of journalism in Africa has also been modeled after the western style. The theories and practices are not tailored to the size of Africans. A study by Nyamnjoh (2005: 3) supports this claim: “African journalism lacks both the power of self-determination and the power to shape the universal concepts that are ‘deaf-and-dumb to the peculiarities of journalism in and on Africa.”

As we can infer from the text above, Africans did not find an inbuilt mechanism to shape journalism towards the demands of the people of the continent. Thus, the trend languishes being mimicry of what the industrialized West does, Dhewa (17 August 2015). To put it in another way, the conception of news value which can be, among other, conflict, oddity, prominence, weirdness, unexpectedness ...according to Brighton and Foy, ( 2007:6-31), are already copied from the West and past in African media houses.

Due to this, African journalists themselves, knowingly or unknowingly seem to have been reproducing, with the same tone, the Western narratives. This is to mean that African journalists have not still become sources of news in matters regarding Africa.

The resource constraint and the western model journalistic trend together seem to have made African media and journalists to be dependent on the West. In this regard Curran and Park (2000:4) depicted how the US media dominated countries in “third world:”

American aid programs to developing countries, and the “free flow of information” policies promoted by the American state, assist the American media industry in its drive to achieve international dominion (Schiller 1969, 1976, and 1998). Far from promoting self-sufficiency, the “modernization” of developing countries merely fosters dependency within an exploitative system of global economic relations. It promotes American capitalist values and interests, and erodes local culture in a process of global homogenization.

Most African newsrooms, thus, relay on Western news sources to feed their audiences with information. Due to that, the public’s right to know has been put in question. And the role of journalism in Africa has also been reduced, because journalism is first and foremost for the people. Moreover, the trend would silence Africa when it comes to telling its own stories by its own journalists.

The advent of globalization with massive scales exerts pressure on Africa from diverse angles; seem to have further exacerbated the problem under discussion. Due to that, news stories which are found on most African media particularly those produced in English tell the world the negative narrative. The son of former Kenyan cameraman, Mohammed Amin— who first lost his right hand in Ethiopia in 1991 and them his life in a plan crush of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961on November 23, 1996— Salim Amin who is also a famous cameraman had ones this assumption to say about Africa’ journalists Franks, S. (2005:133)89:

An African journalist who also tries to peddle my wares to the international media... but we cannot sell anything positive about Africa. We do plenty of positive stories, on subjects other than war and disaster, but they are mainly for an African audience now, because we cannot move them internationally.

Of course, as he has said it above, African journalists look like to have engaged in sensational news production. Even such news items are not well supported with enough background information, Howard (2003). And this inturn is assumed to have arisen from two angles; lack of skills, talent, training and ethics, Ogunlesi (26 May 2015). Indeed, this research would also look into these assumptions. However, various global companies are seen highly engaged in giving short term trainings and workshops to African journalists. But the question is: why do these companies invest their money on African journalists and what are their expectations? In addition to that, many governmental and non-governmental companies are also alledged to have “bribed journalists” (Ibid: Para. 6). This research, therefore, attempt to look into the factors that detract news reporting in the selected East African countries.

1.3. Objective of the study

1.3.1. General objective

The general objective of this research was to investigate the factors which detract news reporting in the selected newsrooms, The Ethiopian Herald and Kenyan Daily Nation.

1.3.2. Specific objectives

The specific objectives of this research are:

- Explaining how news value is applied in the newsroom, and whether it affects news reporting.
- To identify internal and external factors which affect news reporting.
- To assess how background knowledge affect news reporting.

1.4. Research questions

- How do journalists in the study group apply news value, and how does it affect news reporting?
- How do internal and external factors affect news reporting?
- How does background knowledge affect news reporting?

1.5. Significance of the study

This study could be used as a springboard for further researchers who may engage themselves in a similar topic. The issue, though in a limited context, would provoke a full scale research in African journalism academia so that pertinent bodies can go to decisions for the betterment of journalistc practices in the respective African newsrooms. Moreover, other researchers could use the findings to understand the status of news production in the newsrooms sampled in the study. African newsrooms and journalists may also employ the findings as a frame of reference to their journalistic works and descussions.

1.6. Delimitation of the study

This research is basically on news reporting in two African newsrooms: The Ethiopian Herald and Kenyan Daily Nation. And it is evident that the newspapers entertain a range of issues other than news. The finding of this research, however, is applicable only to news reporting, and cannot portray the overall contents of the papers.

1.7. Limitation of the study

One major limitation of this study stems from budjet constraint. It seems that this problem appears in most research papers and nowadays becomes a cliche. However, in this study one needs to be so considerate about the process. Data were gathered from Addis Ababa and Kenya. Gathering the data from the latter with small budject is just a night mare. It demanded a lot of communications with acquaintances living in Nairobi. Sending questionnaire papers via courier and recollecting them, giving a frequent reminder to acquaintances so that participants can fill out the questionnaire papers, interviewing journalists online, and getting copies of Daily Nation had been so tough and costly. Due to that the researcher managed to interview three journalists from DN and content analysis had to be confined to samples published in a three months period, and most news items of Daily Nation were accessed online.



2.1. News defined

News has been taking different shapes across different periods, as various sources have depicted. In the 17th C, for instance, news was regarded as simple reports, and then it saw some sort of transformation as the previous simple report of a given event halted and had given way to a new trend—i.e., giving audiences a summary of a given event, Palczewski (2009).

The most prominent and also may be catchy definition came to the scene in the late 19th C. This definition is quite common among journalism students across the board. “News is when a man bites a dog”. From this metaphoric expression one may understand that when ‘a dog bites a man’ which is rather not very unusual, may not make the day’s news. Two American journalists were believed to have coined the definition discussed above, Palczewski (2009:1): “Charles Stanton, assistant to Secretary of State during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and co-owner and publisher of “New York Sun” and John B. Bogart (journalist for “New York Sun”.

The same author citing Lippmann (1922:216,215) tells us that news is just information, which does not tell the bulk of knowledge as to how a given condition occurs. The author puts this argument in support of his claim: “The news does not tell you how the seed is germinating in the ground, but it may tell you when the first sprout breaks through the surface”.

The definition above emphasizes more on the nature of news. This being the case, another approach in the definition of news comes from Gieber (1964). He stated news as “what appears in the press and more precisely, news is what newspaperperson makes it,” (p. 223)

Whether an event becomes news or not is the judgment of a newspaperperson, according to him. In this definition, it is implied that news is something that cannot stand in its own right, rather something that gets existence as a result of the media and journalists.

However, Shoemaker, a well acclaimed communication and gate-keeping theoretician, argued that, “News exists in some forms... even in the absence of media.”

Meanwhile, a definition that floated long in the American journalism was forwarded by Palczewski (2009:4). The works of most, if not all, Western journalists seem to have attached due regard with it. According to him, therefore, news is something “new”, “weird”, and “unexpected”.

The question one needs to pose pertaining to this definition is: what sort of criteria can free journalists’ from bias? To accept this definition as true, journalists need to have the right spectacles to look people of different cultural background equally with that of their own. Otherwise, their attempt to evaluate people of different cultural background against their own could lead them to bias, prejudice and racism. This is due to their perception of the Other as new, wired, unexpected and the likes Coming back to Shoemaker, her definition of news looks like to be in terms with the capitalist world order. “News is a commodity that can be sold and traded. For her, “Journalists manufacture the news. Public relations firms manipulate the news. The audience consumes the news. Advertisers pay to place their products next to the news,” Ibid (2006:106). This definition is pract ically guiding world’s mainstream media. When covering Africa for instance, conflict, war, hunger and the likes are the lucrative areas in selling their news stories.

We can also see additional yet very short definition in Shoemaker’s discussion of news; “News is power. The more power a person has, the more easily the person can select, shape, and otherwise determine what news becomes,” Ibid, (p.107).

For Palczewski (2009:4) “News is what is current, important and [the one that] influences our life”. This definition therefore is connected with informing, educating and entertaining people.

News in general could appear in hard and soft form, and it makes up the most important section of the news paper or any other electronic media. Keeble wrote that, for instance, hard news is “the bread and butter of a newspaper” or any electronic media (2005:84).

Hard news usually give bad narrative that includes but not limited to crime, conflict, war, death, scandals and the likes, Shoemaker (2006).

Stories of such kind is the one we always find in the front page of newspapers as opening news, or those that appears in the first minutes of a news hour. This news has a power to shape readers’ opinions. It is clear that a reliable source of information for people around the world is news media, thus it shapes public opinion greatly.

2.2. News reporting and non-representation

A dynamic dimension in Shoemaker’s perspective, as far as news reporting is concerned, stems on the negative nature and its failure to represent the day’s events. It is quite usual for journalists to select negative features than positive ones when producing and/or compiling their news stories. She explained this tendency posing a question: “Why did journalists select my friend’s murder for last night’s television news program rather than my neighbor’s new job?”(Ibid: 108).

Additional critique on news media and news reporting is failure to give representation of the day’s events. It is clear that quite many events occur in our surrounding. But t he news media select and report those bad ones. Shoemaker put this paradox with a question: “If the news media give us a representative sample of the day’s events, why aren’t ordinary people’s daily triumphs covered?” (Ibid: 108).

Often, what we hear, see and watch on the news media cannot be taken forgranted as representative. One is due to source bias and the other is due to interests of media houses. Particularly world’s mainstream media have always defined interest and they may underreport or fail to report what is happening in places such as Afria— techinically called as periphery, Ginneken (1998). And Afria gets good coverage only if events involve countries techinically called Center such as United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and France. It is for such cases reporters and crosspondents paracheute to Africa for sake of reporting news. But even in these conditions, they approach the center’s representatives from the government, academia and business circles, Ibid.

As has been discussed in the definition section of news, one clear bias of journalists may come from their cultural background. For most journalists something wired, unexpected and the like make news. And these weirdness and unexpectedness could not be same across the board. For instance, something considered weird in the western culture would be normal and positive in Africa. The negative nature and non-representativeness of news is, therefore, another character that could affect news reporting.

2.3. Domesticating news reporting

Domesticating news reporting refers to a process of fitting a news value and story to the historical, cultural and political context of a given society according to Gagnon (2011). In connection with this, there is a gap of literature to argue whether domestication is practiced in African newsrooms or not and to showcase what challenge create a bottleneck in the process of domestication. But, in the world of globalization, the challenges of newsrooms across and on the globe shares some features. In this regard one can learn from the experience of Japan. Therefore, Clausen, (2003) firmly argued the critical issues that hamper newsrooms in the process of domesticating news are—as far as Japan is conserned— “global influences of international news agencies”, “national media environment”, “public service and commercial organizational factors” (p:2) are few to mention.

In line with that, thus, it suffices to argue that ethical issues are also important factors that divert African journalists from doing news stories that represent their specific contexts.

The point made by Clausen gives a room for this research to further investigate how the global dynamics affect news reporting in the study group. The professional and ethical elements adopted from the West would seem to further exacerbate as a result of globalization.

No doubt that modern Journalism in Africa is a mere copy of the western model. The profession for instance imitated the western norm. Among researchers who have come up with finding related to this assertion is Kasoma, (1996:95). He wrote: “The tragedy facing African journalism,” he argued “is that the continent’s journalists have closely imitated the professional norms of the North,” cited in Skjerdal, T. (2012, 636).

For Nyamnjoh (2005) the practice of journalism in African is a yearn to convert the African values under the guise of modernity and civilization. This trend is manifest in the professional and ethical practice of journalists. Hence, journalism practice and/or news reports have ended up creating “a caricature of African humanity”, “creativity” and “realities,” (P.3). Thus, he argued, Journalism in Africa is “a journalism of bandwagonism, where mimicry is the order of the day, as emphases is less on thinking than on doing.” Nyamnjoh is an unequivocal to criticize African journalists who work “in a world where everything is predefined for them”.

The above arguments validate that the professional and ethical commitments of African journalists is not to Africa and to its people but, to the global north’s way of living and their values.

In news reporting too, the trend would not be different though the result of this research needs to testify whether the assertion holds truth or not. But, in one hand lack of creativity, means sticking to the trend of Western reporting styles and sitting back until the West brings about new model seems to have got safe heavens in Africa. On the other hand, lack of contextualization of media practices seems also to be another bottleneck.

2.4. Key factors affecting news reporting

News is the product of many actors, and these actors have important roles in deciding whether an event could be news or not, or in deciding on the angle and framing of the news. Epstein (1981:119) for instance argued that news is not the result of “chance events”, and rather it is the result of decisions made by a news organization. The organization weighs the relevance of the news item from diverse angles as it is operating in a competitive environment. And even with in an organization there is heirachy. Thus, people at top management levels in the organization can have a greater say than the individual journalist. Here one can also notice the role of traditional gatekeepers, when it comes to print media for instance. Gatekeepers are persons in newsroom who have a role of selecting a piece of news or information and make final decisions as to whether the news/information is carried or not (broadcast or not) on a specific media outlet, Berger (1995).

Be that as it may, the readers’ interest also plays an important role in news reporting, Epstein (1981). In fact, it is the news media which has created and is creating the world we know, and when we translete this to Africa, the Africa we know is the creation of the Western mainstream media as also argued by Valerie (2011). Thus, readers’ expectations or intrest seem not be different from the reproduction of the same picture created by Western media. So the assumption is that a target audience of African media would expect bad news to be reported on African media in general. This is because Africa is canonized as a swampy area where problems are breeding in grotesque proportions.

In addition, deadline itself has a great role in qualifying an event to be news or not (Ibid).

As has been discussed above, internal factors such as gatekeepers, individual journalists, top management bodies and the organizational interest are key internal factors that affect news reporting. In addition, factors such as government, advertisers, interest groups, other media and community concern are external factors that affect news reporting, according to washington.edu, (15/2/2000: Para, 1).

2.5. News value and representation of Africa

News value is one that makes an event news and exists “in the minds of the journalist”

Palmer (2000: 45); Strömbäck et al. (2012: 719). Galtung and Ruge on the other hand argued that news values are one people like to know, Brighton and Foy ( 2007). They based their seminal work on the principles of human psychology and defined news value as “aspects of events that make them more likely to receive coverage.” Running (N.D.:2). Westerstähl & Johansson (1994: 71;Palmer 2000: 46) also stated that news values are “systems of criteria central to the decision making process as to what will or will not be selected as news”.

In the mean time, quite a lot of researchers explained news value in various ways. However, this writer would like to borrow from the voluminous book of, Brighton, and Foy ( 2007: 7­10) in a table 2. The table provides with list of elements that journalists employ as parameter to select their news from a handful of events happening around them.

Table 1: News value

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Source: Brighton, andFoy (2007)

From Table 2, one can deduce that the criteria that make news, decided out of the African setting, seem to be problematic. Firstly, Africans have every sort of human and intellectual right to decide on issues which become news and those that do not. Second, those elements which are in use today cannot be universal. They are just theories in social science. Let alone a social science theory, theories in natural science cannot always be true. For instance water boils at a 100 degree centigrade. But, in places where atmospheric pressure is low, it may boil in less than 100. But, as it would be discussed in the coming sections, social science theories usually lacks a universal applicability. Thus it is fair to argue that the news selection criteria we saw above cannot have a universal application.

Issues such as Negativity sheds dark light on Africa when used without due care and when reported in the dictates of globalization such as seeking to sell news at the expense of the unfavorable images created as a result of it. Here this researcher would like to mention S. Sudanese conflict. Needless to mention the catastrophic nature of the conflict, the problem lies when most journalists are failing to address the root causes. What is the role of China, Western Countries, Uganda, Ethiopia and the Sudan? This question is usually overlooked in most journalistic works but the catastrophe, which is in grotesque apperance, is reported aiming to blame one of the two sides from “President” Salva Kiir and “rebel” leader Riek Machar or both. A more saturated argument which squarely backs this researcher’s assertion comes form Wrong (21February, 2014). According to him most journalists give only one dimension of conflict when it comes to Africa, reporting only what the news value favors. Thus issues such as the brief war between the two sides, the resulting hunger and crisis of migration the amount of death and the disputes of the two sides are usually covered. Of course, it is in the delimitation of this study to find out as to which criteria get primacy in the newsroom under investigation.

To cap this section, the criteria that African journalists are using to select the day’s news, are far from valuing Africa. It has rather placed Africa and a billion of its people in the bottom section of the imaginary hierarchy.

2.6. Journalism models in Africa

It is commonly believed that one of the causes that account for African journalists to reproduce misrepresentation in their news reporting is lack of home-grown journalism model. However there are scholars who vehemently argue that there are models of journalism worth attention in African academic world.

Skjerdal (2012:640) stated that over the past decades three kinds of sub disciplines of journalism that could come under three major banners have been practised in various countries since the late 1950s, which is summarized in table below.

Table 1: African journalism models.

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Source: Researceher ’s compileation

In the world we are living, wrote Shaw (2009) the western model of journalism, which is taken as an all size fit, have been adopted despite its problematic nature. “Euro-centric assumptions and indicators of humanity, creativity and reality are universalized with the insensitive arrogance, ignorance and power,” (P. 505). However, it also concluded that the elements of journalism such as “objectivity” and “watchdog” role could be substituted in Africa with notions such as journalism of “affiliation” and “association” (p.505). Nevertheless, these things are so rare in journalism practice in Africa. Story telling structure, organization of the whole body of the news or even in the diction of news, it seems to be quite difficult to find an African element. In this regard we can mention Chinua Achebe’s expression, “Proverbs in Africa are the palm oil in which words are eaten with” and we see no proverb in hard news which would rather tell the story in a more vivid and apt manner.

The consideration of western model journalism is not of course the problem of Africa only. Other countries such as Australia also criticized the Anglo-American model of journalism and has come up with a new model, which is conceived to give their local issues a global audience Breit and et al., (2013).

2.7. Ethicts and news reporting

In the discussions undertaken above, it has been argued that journalistic model produced in the Center are simply imported to the periphery that is developing world including Africa without taking note of its relevance and appropriation. This model also includes journalism ethics. Therefore, it is important to examine in what way it affects the practice of journalism in Africa.

Retief (2002: 3) defined ethics as “a systematic, reasoned or rational approach , based on a set of principles to determine what is good or ethical and what is bad or unethical, in human conduct”, where as Dimock & Tucker (2004) and Ward (2008) [quoted in Goretti, L. (2008:139)] more broadly took the definition to its roots in philosophy had given us the definition below:

[Ethics is ]the analysis of correct conduct, responsible practice, and fair human interactions in the light of the best available principles. Ethics is also about practical judgment—the application of principles to issues and decisions. Ethics encompasses theoretical and practical reasoning. Theoretically, ethics is the analysis (or “meta-ethics”) of the language of ethics, of forms of ethical reasoning, and of the objectivity of moral principles. Practically, ethics is “applied ethics,” the study of principles for such domains as corporate governance, scientific research, and professional practice.

Therefore, from the two definitions one can comprehend that ethical practice is the guiding principle that sheds light on every professional job. Without ethical guideline, achieving any societal goal would be a nightmare, the researcher believe.

2.7.1. Development of media ethics

As we see in the above defination, charged words and phrases such as “systematic”, “reasoned”, “rational” “correct conduct”, “responsible practice”, and “fair human interactions” would leap into journalism to set media ethics. These ethical guidelines however did not roll to journalism all of a sudden, they rather developed through time since the invention of printing press and have been affected many times. Ward (2008:139-140) suggested five stages that the media ethics has changed their shapes from one form to another. This researcher has summarized them in the following way.

A. Early phase of Gutenberg’s press in the mid-fifteenth century had brought about impartial press. This phase continued until the first theory of press— authoritarian, where media is servant of the state.
B. Creation of public ethic in England, France and USA which makes journalists to claim [as] tribunes of the public, protecting their liberty against government. That eventually end up being a mid wife of the forth estate notion of the media.
C. Press as forth estate: a 19th C approach in the liberal world that give media a power for the protection of liberty of the public representing the public more than the parliaments did
D. Social responsibility: an objective and impartial journalism to serve the public but activist journalists and investigative journalists critiqued it for journalism is not just reporting but it should bring a more equitable society.
E. Mixed media since 1990s, where the public get information both from traditional and new media. Diversity and empowering citizens’ gain momentum. This era turned journalists from traditional gatekeeper to facilitators of conversation and social networking.

2.7.2. Linking journalistic practice with journalistic ethics

Reporting news, by and large, need to consider the morality of a given society otherwise the reporting aimed to serve the society would bring more harm than good, Haile-Gebriel (2005).

Therefore, journalists have sort of guidelines to carry out their works ethically such as avoiding: “the invasion of privacy,” “distortion,” “sensationalism,” “suppression,” “bias”; and “the provision of reliable information,” McQuail, (2000: 12).

On another level of argument Christians and et al., (2008) and Nordenstreng (2004) each of them have come up with different arguments. For the former “ethics are not meant to consist of rational, a priori principles, but should rather emerge out of lived experience,” (p. 151). The latter also builds on that and added “three basic but broad ethical principles, so called protonorms: respect for human dignity, truth-telling and nonviolence,” (p.25). Thus, in journalism these important elements are crucial to carry out jobs ethically.

Journalists, quite often in Africa, cannot work within the shed of the ethical guideline. There are many factors for that. In this case, access to resources comes to the forefront. Thus, journalists are exposed to be easily bribed and providing reliable information falls at stake. Plus, giving the whole truth requires adequate time, money and effort. And these things are scarce in most newsrooms of Africa.

2.7.3. Journalistic Ethics, Globalization and Africa

It is important to see how the globalization dynamics go along with journalistic ethics in Africa. The ethical frame-work of journalists may be affected by globalization, Christians, Rao, Ward and Wasserman (2008: 136). It is clear that globalization affects culture. In addition, there is such a thing that they call global culture. And the ethical elements in journalism are also understood as universal and applied irrespective of the consideration of diversity, Black and et al.,(1993) quoted in Mupfurutsa, H. V. (1999). In this regard, the most and widely accepted libertarian theory dictates the right of an individual to get much attention than the community thus basic African philosophies such as Ubuntu would be overlooked.

In the same vein, Kwame, K. (1996) also builds on that as saying African journalists should not copy the professional elements of the West they rather should make sound moral decisions.

Indeed, the responsibility seems to rest upon African journalists, among others key players, and the reason to make sound decisions originated from various sources Mupfurutsa (1999) for instance clearly illustrated the differences among the people of the West and Africa in that the former have good government regulation, control and press freedom is respected, while the latter lacks these. In addition, there is also a substantial educational and spatial difference. In this case the former are literate and live in better managed cities where important services are provided. And the latter are illiterate rural dwellers.


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Factors affecting News Reporting in East Africa. A Focus on the "Ethiopian Herald" and Kenyan "Daily Nation"
Addis Ababa University  (Social Sciences)
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The author of this text is not a native English speaker. Please excuse any grammatical errors and other inconsistencies.
factors, news, reporting, east, africa, focus, ethiopian, herald, kenyan, daily, nation
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Worku Belachew (Author), 2016, Factors affecting News Reporting in East Africa. A Focus on the "Ethiopian Herald" and Kenyan "Daily Nation", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/384344


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