African cannot continue to rely on the western and foreign corporate media to do in-depth unbiased coverage of the continent. At best many of these media institutions do sensational reporting and superficial analysis of events on the continent. They are notorious for doing selective coverages. For instance, they will not provide the same coverage on the conflict in the Congo as they will in other African countries. In short, the conflict in the Congo preserves their interest despite it been one of the deadliest in the world since WWII.
Scholars, students and ordinary people have pointed out the obvious that the corporate and foreign controlled media operating in Africa have continually misrepresented the continent with sensationalized stories on corruption, tribal conflicts, war, hunger, diseases etc. As a result of these negative coverages, it is hard for many to hear about Africa without thinking about one of the stereotypes consciously or unconsciously.
What can Africans do to get fair and balanced representation in the media? A typical pan-African answer would be focused on African promoting their own media outlets and getting their news and entertainment
and other contents from their own. This is wonderful but how realistic is it? It is realistic if African are focused on finding their own solutions. No one can better sell Africa to the world than African themselves. Hence, it is unrealistic for African to expect the corporate and foreign media institutions to make honest and in-depth coverage on the continent.
In other words, Africans must make deliberate efforts, such as building a powerful media institution like CNN, BBC or Al Jazeera to change the narrative and set the agenda for news coming out of Africa. If a small country like Qatar can be home to Al-Jazeera, which is widely watched across Africa, Africa can be home to a powerful media institution too. It is not like Africa does not have brilliant and courageous journalists. Neither is the fact that Africans are not consuming media content, quite the contrary. Hence, investing in the media sector that will bring good representation to Africa and African in this Public Relations (PR) driven world would be beneficial to young Africans. Investors will want to come to do business in Africa bringing with them money and employment. So, what is stopping African from investing in the media sector or creating the likes of CNN in Africa by Africans? Building a strong and vibrant African own media brand is just one part of the strategy to fairly represent Africa in the media.
As it is good to own a powerful media brand, it is equally powerful and strategic to educate the masses about the importance of consuming the right information and news on Africa. African leaders, influencers, celebrities, diasporas, students must embark on a tireless journey of educating people about the real Africa not the superficial Africa that has been presented to them in their media. This journey of educating people about the real Africa is part of the process of re-writing the narrative of Africa to reflect its complexities in all dimensions.
Luckily, this can be cheap as there are many social media outlets, such as youtube, facebook etc that give ordinary people the ability to reach a wider audience with original materials. Not surprisingly, some young Africans are taking the liberty to create positive stories about their countries and Africa as a whole. Wode Maya is a youtuber who strives to shed light on developments going on across the continent one country at a time. Although some may view his action as a one-sided narrative or a mere feel-good story about Africa, we should encourage him and others as this is one of the ways to counter centuries of negative reporting on Africa.