Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sijui's Response to African Media Post

The other day after putting up this post we received a comment from Sijui-which you can read below. Initially, when I read this comment I thought that it was about the need for African journalism to be the voice of the people, rather than the politicians. Actually though, with only a few short sentences, Sijui has managed to say something very enormous. Given Sijui's wise and insightful comments here, that is no surprise, of course-but nevertheless, I wanted to hat tip Sijui for indirectly providing some much needed direction for this series. So, my understanding of Sjui's comment is that even when you look at the dedicated business media that exists in Africa there are often noticable political overtones. I noticed this too, with a a few exceptions which thanks to Sijui, we will cover perhaps in the next post. I guess the reason that I did not really give this observation a second thought might be because I am getting a more filtered picture of the "on the ground" reality of media in Africa. I was talking to a very close acquaintance from Ghana not long ago about a similar topic. In passing conversation he mentioned that things in Ghana are good, especially in comparison to some of its neighbors, however, they are probably not as good as some of the media that he sees floating out from Ghana's press agencies into the international media organizations. Sijui's comment is different but somehow they feel a bit related. What they may share in common is the theme that the media emenating from Africa's homegrown agencies may have some information gaps. Up until this point I figured that given all of the negative press that a few of Africa's nations receive in international media, that this was to be expected, but underneath that notion is the subtle idea that the media in Africa is being directed in a certain direction. Hmmm? Please read Sijui's comment below and let me know what you think.

"Sorry but I am not yet ready to give 'African media' the pat on the back. In
many instances, they continue to be part of the problem.......they still
concentrate on getting their bread and butter from petty political sideshows and
gossip. Yes, improvements are being made and you are starting to see serious
business publications that provide cutting edge and up to date insights on the
private sector landscape of the continent (Business in Africa etc) however they
are still in the minority. Also the level of competence and professionalism
exhibited by the 'dedicated business journalists' is still rather low. Most
African media is still on the 'pro-democracy bandwagon' and the associated
swirling political currents...they have not moved on to the results of democracy
i.e. a flourishing private sector." from Sijui

Thanks Sijui for being my eyes and ears in your region of Africa...And also, Sijui, thanks for helping this series to stay on track!

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Sijui said...

Thanks Benin for the plug :) Let me give some additional context:

The two major dailies i.e. Standard and Daily Nation have a long track record of established business desks including journalists with business acumen e.g. Jaindi Kiserio, and dedicated magazines, that being said their reporting is still superficial. There is rarely in depth analysis of emerging trends, industry and business icons, public policy issues etc.....most of the time it is regurgitating press releases from the corporations themselves!!!!! I get more substantive analysis from blogs like Bankelele and Cold Tusker. Bottom line do either of them truly educate the mwananchi on the business/corporate landscape? NO! They are too busy doing the PR work for political camps and their endless shenanigans. Even a blockbuster development like the KENGEN IPO which transcends business interests and has real political and social implications, was grudgingly reported piecemeal.....and only after public demand necessitated it when it became obvious that so many Kenyans were preoccupied with KENGEN.
And Kenya is supposed to have a relatively sophisticated business infrastructure?

Let's go to Ghana where business journalism is at its infancy, the country is still shaking off the legacy of socialism, the professional expertise and standards are NIL. Which is a shame since there are far more exciting things happening in the business landscape than on the political one.......Ghanaian politics is dull by African standards especially now with a fairly mature democracy whereby politicians are increasingly seen as fallible.
Bottomline, African media like to describe themselves as the vanguard of the democracy movement, voice of the people blah, blah, blah.......they find very little interesting things to report about their people's initiative and chutzpah......yet they are the first to remind you about their self importance!!!

imnakoya said...

You may want to add The African Executive (East Africa/Kenya) to your list, and probably subscribe to their newsletter. Likewise Business in Africa from S. Africa.

As far as I'm concern these two are among the best genre on the continent.

Benin "Mwangi" said...


Good one...good one-on the press releases. I agree wth you that Coldtusker and Bankele have really detailed and informative analysis. Interesting point on Ghanaian politics, I always thought that it was like that(more quiet)becuase the current political system was sort of super imposed onto the traditional rulership system and so the political lanscape took on the calm and laid back characteristics of the Nana's. But what you have said is quite an observation, at any rate yes, there is sooo much going in business-wise in Ghana....


Hey, thanks for stopping by and thanks also for the Friday link!!! Am I just late or have you recently started doing more business posts on GP? They are really good, by the way and I asked because of the round ups on Global Voices. I have been trying to figure out if your blog would fit under the business blog category...My perception of GP up until now was that of a deep political commentary on Nigeria, with added spices here and there on news, observations, personalities, and such in Nigeria. Anyhow, when you get a chance, please let me know. Thanks again for stopping by.

imnakoya said...

Grandiose Parlor is on anything African/Nigerian, with a slant towards political and socioeconomic issues. I go where the spirit leads me :)

Benin "Mwangi" said...


I love it!! What a response. Let's be in touch.


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