" ITREALMS: Study ranks African media low on ICT policy

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Study ranks African media low on ICT policy

Recent study on the quality of media coverage of contemporary Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy issues on the continent has ranked African media low, even in Nigeria, it is “he who pays the piper, detects the tune”.

The study funded by CATIA through its policy advocacy programme in Africa, was published as the Highway Africa project at Rhodes University, South Africa, indicating that the media was silence on ICT policy issues in six African countries where the study was carried out, including Nigeria.

Other countries covered were Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Senegal and Kenya while it was coordinated in South Africa.

The report made available to Champion Infotel also showed that in Nigeria, media ICT policy coverage could be found as inserts targeted at the IT industry, while business and private sector interests were given priority because “they pay the piper”.

Whereas the government and industry are the main users, consumers and spokespersons of ICTs were not left out.

The study which lasted for over six months was basically conducted by African researchers, for Africans to redress the attitude of Northern-based researchers´ treating the continent as merely research object, without addressing her assumptions around human capacity.

Key findings of the study indicated that while the activities of the ICT sector varies in each of the countries, the media in general showed little interest in ICTs.

Except for Ethiopia, which showed a significant amount of coverage during the study period, including letters to the editor, it added that ICT coverage whether in an ICT excerpt or in the main newspaper, shows no analysis or critique of ICTs sector generally, which points to “lack of understanding in the media of ICT policy issues in general”.

The executive summary of the report said that except for Kenya, each of the aforementioned countries, where monitored based on what was described as ‘policy-influential media’ for a duration of four weeks.

It also stated that where ICT policy-related events were held, media coverage was monitored in the periods, before, during and after the event.

“In the latter case, researchers also attended these events to further assess the media’s interpretation of the event versus the realities which they themselves experienced,” it stated.

Additionally, interviews were conducted across ICT policy and media contexts of these countries under review and on the whole, about 150 persons participated, which included vox pop.

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