Monday, 13 February 2012

Cyberspace: Africa’s new alternative media?

Written by Gael Masengi

Africa is no stranger to media freedom and freedom of expression rights extreme violation as they both are considered as major obstacles for dictatorship; mainstream media journalists in particular are continuing to be the main victimsof the oppressive regimes, many have lost their lives and yet others are said to be imprisoned across the continent.

Perhaps the days of “old age” media as the only way of information are numbered as nowadays the African continent is witnessing the evolution of technology within its borders; the Arab spring on the other hand is a result of massive irruption of personal blogging and citizen journalism. African people are finding the way to bypass any traditional media’s blockades imposed to them by turning to cyberspace, continuously, websites are seeing the light of the day and most of them are not pro-governments, they are indeed anti-regimes and in many cases pro-opposition or simply ordinary citizens willing to uncover the truth,  the presence of members of the opposition factions on new media (internet) is becoming remarkable while the incumbents presidents are omnipresent on TV, radio and newspapers.

In Nigeria, for example, thousands turn to internet not just for international news but for national as well, Sahara Reporters is a proof of people seeking true information. The website’s tagline is ‘…Report yourself’, making it a much reliable source of information for Nigerians in and outside the country, it acts as a platform in which eye-witness account matter and brings alive stories that voluntarily or involuntarily would not be seen on TV, heard on radio or read on newspapers.

Sahara Reporters isa citizen media website that encourages citizen journalists to publish evidence of on-going corruption, abuses of human rights and government malfeasance in Nigeria. Read a statement on the website.

Like many "anti-regime" websites, Sahara Reporters is based in the United State of America far from the reach of government and notorious security force. It becomes clear that people are relying more and more on this new alternative media for stories than the traditional media which require editorial and perhaps state control.

 However the critical difference between blogging and journalism, as many believe, is that bloggers and citizen journalists are partial or sentimental and report one side of story and leave another, despite the fact that “old media” is accused to be biased but journalists are still taken more seriously.


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