The African media could do better in highlighting the continent's good news stories, writes Oscar Kimanuka in the East African. There are plenty of those, and the media should not fall into the Western media trap of concentrating only on the negative.
The media in Africa has consistently highlighted the darker side of the continent at the expense of positive things that are taking place.
Our press seems to derive pleasure in churning out stories about the misery and hunger that have become a common feature of our lives.
Sometimes outsiders get the impression that many of our countries are on the brink of disintegration or are “failed states,” a common post-cold war parlance.
Despite this seemingly bleak picture, there is a lot that is happening on our continent that misses the reporter’s eye.
RWANDA, WHICH NEARLY sank after the genocide, just over a decade ago, has made miraculous recovery. But a lot more needs to be done.
The country’s media however, leaves a lot to be desired. Private media houses remains astonishingly mediocre in both content and style. And numerous so-called gutter papers that churn out misinformation are allowed to freely operate.
PRESIDENT PAUL Kagame meets journalists on a regular basis, sometimes more than once in a month at his offices in Urugwiro.
He is subjected to lengthy and sometimes trivial questions by the journalists.
At one such meeting in mid-January, one journalist, I would like to believe for lack of a better question, asked inquired why the Fourth Estate had not been invited to a luncheon or party by the Head of State.
It not only exposed a trivial mentality but I believe it contravened journalistic ethics.
NO DOUBT, HOWEVER, the private media are contributing in significant ways towards democratic governance and accountability in many of our countries.
What the Western media have done better than our own, is to package stories to suit their national agendas. Think of 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Basque separatists bombings in Spain, the many bombings by terrorists in Western capitals..
SO WHAT does national interest mean to our media?
Of course I remain acutely aware of journalist’s reluctance to pursue the so-called “positive stories” that do not win awards. But credit must be given where it is due.
* Oscar Kimanuka is a commentator on social and economic issues based in Kigali. This column first appeared in the East African.