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Wanted: Balanced Development Contents On Nigeria, Africa In Foreign Media                    

By Edu Abade

More than ever before, stakeholders in the media industry, including journalists in the print and electronic media, online publishers, media monitors, consultants, students of Mass Communication and public relations practitioners have expressed concern over what many watchers have described as ‘unsatisfactory portrayal’ of Nigeria and Africa in the international media.

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 They expressed concerns that over the years, most of the content that had emanated from foreign media had tended to favour the negative aspects of Nigeria and the entire African continent, with particular focus on the slums of Lagos, the ghettos of Soweto, the genocide in Uganda, the supposed hunger and homelessness, the military coups as well as the seemingly intractable cases of corruption in Sub-Sarahan Africa.

 Whereas from Nigeria to Kenya, Tanzania to Cameroun, Ghana to Sierra Leone, Egypt to Liberia and South Africa to Morocco, Niger Republic , Cote d’Ivoire to Rwanda, Togo and Republic of Benin, there are, there have been and will continue to be positive developments that should capture the attention of international media.

 However, such expectations have not been met in terms of capturing the very essence of the African experience, especially considering the abundant natural endowments in both resources and human capital that should have attracted the attention of foreign media practitioners, due majorly to what many concerned watchers have described as ‘neocolonial interests’.

 These were the submissions of participants at a roundtable organised for media practitioners by the Greenreach Global Consulting in Lagos on October 24, 2023 to acquaint journalists in the country with the German News Service (GNS) contents and subscription to its newsletter.

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 At the roundtable with the theme: Expectations of Nigeria’s Media Consumers of Foreign News Content, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Greenreach Global Consulting, Olayiwola Olakanmi, Allwell Okpi of Africa Check and Director, Network Operations Radio at Raypower, Mrs. Ibiyemi Olufowobi, among others, who shared their experiences, maintained that Nigeria and Africa indeed deserve better content for audiences of international media.

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 Essentially, they argued that while the news content from foreign outfits have not totally met the expectations of Nigerian consumers, local media practitioners need to do a greater job in the task of creating more positive and balanced content in their various platforms.

 Olayiwola, who stressed the need for more creative, robust, educational and entertaining contents on Africa, maintained that the focus of the media roundtable was to acquaint participants with the German News Services’ contents, as well as how the contents could be deployed in various publications whether in the print, electronic and online platforms.

 Speaking, Okpi, who highlighted that while the foreign media tended to escalate negative aspects of African countries, noted that there is the need to explore the more positive development issues confronting Nigeria and Africa, maintaining that the opportunities remain vast in exploring the socio-economic, political, tourism power, cultural, educational and other potential on the continent.

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 Speaking without prejudice to journalists of Nigeria and African descent, Ibiyemi insisted that most of the reports on Africa in the foreign were products of ‘interests’ of promoters and governments of advanced countries of the West, adding that the United States of America for instance, always looks out for its interest on any issue.

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 Insisting that the ‘human angle’ factor remains critical to how the foreign media outfits and their promoters think, she debunked the notion that most of the content on Nigeria and Africa was always negative, saying the likes of football icon Jay-Jay Okocha and music sensation Daddy Showkey, among others who were discovered in Ajegunle, known more as a ghetto settlement, was due to attention from foreign media.

  Citing a Nigerian proverb: You don’t show visitors your father’s compound with the left hand, she argued that most of the negative content about Nigeria in the foreign media were either written or documented with the assistance of journalists, who show their foreign counterparts around the slums and all the other ‘bad spots’ across the country, which they feast on and celebrate.

 “In spite of the challenges we face as journalists, especially of conditions of service, lack of working tools and poor (and sometimes non-payment of salaries), we must strive not to help foreign reporters to create depressing content about us,” she stressed.

 She, therefore, maintained that journalists should actually be ‘the neck that moves the head’ of governments, institutions and influential individuals and businessmen on policy direction and programmes, just as she urged journalists to shun fiscal gains and short-term interests to pursue their career, while giving the ethics of the journalistic profession topmost priority.

 At the one-day media roundtable, participants, who spoke without reservations and in a no-hold barred fashion, highlighted the challenges facing them including unpaid salaries, threat to their lives on the line of duty, editors and publishers’ interference even when pursuing authentic, verifiable investigative stories, as well as advertisement considerations, as some of the impediments to optimal performance.

 They particularly expressed concern that Nigeria and Africa were being underreported, especially given the issues of underdevelopment bedeviling the country insisting that the foreign media must de-escalate their focus on the negative contents and dwell more on the vast opportunities and God-given natural resources in Africa and especially Nigeria.

 Presenting some slides to acquaint participants with the GNS expectations from beneficiaries of the media roundtable, Olayiwola charged journalists to avail themselves of the resources available on their websites and GNS Newsletter with a view to enriching their experiences, deepening their knowledge of foreign news contents and ultimately improving consumption of balanced news contents on Nigeria and the African continent.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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