The Internet helps keep mainstream media on their toes

Musikilu Mojeed

Technology will definitely not solve all the problems confronting the media in Africa, where corruption is rife and journalists are poorly trained and paid. As Sage mentioned, internet literacy, penetration level and affordability in the continent is still abysmally low.

But technology is gradually solving part of the problems  – the problems of  story spiking and harassment. In Nigeria for instance, it is now possible for stories that could not make it into the mainstream media, either because of self censorship, outright corruption or advertisers’ pressure, to still come to light. Some of the quickest, and most reliable sources of information in our country today are news websites, some of them published from abroad, like Sage’s.

There is this website (www.saharareporters.org) which has become one of the most popular source of news in Nigeria. It is run by a United States-based Nigerian activist and it has over the years built up a reputation as a trusted source of news about corruption, misgovernment and human rights abuses in Nigeria.

The website now has a rich network of sources in Nigeria, including high level government insiders, who regularly provide it with authentic information. It may not be practicing ideal journalism but it has helped a great deal in putting the country’s mainstream media on their toes.  Stories that get spiked in the mainstream media usually find their way to the site.

I do not know for sure how its owner funds the site. But I do know that, because of its huge traffic, the site now attracts advertisements, even from banks and telecommunication giants in Nigeria. It is also possible that it enjoys some foundation support.

I agree that the situation in the DRC presents a peculiar challenge. From the picture Sage painted, it means there is no media in the country in the real sense of the word.

Then we need to rally round people like Sage, help them source foundation supports to do the kind of journalism that is necessary for their country. Sage himself should not give up. As he tries to report on his country from afar, the best bet for him remains the online platform.

 

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