New York-based The Africa Center; the narrative-changing organisation, Africa No Filter, Media Monitoring Africa and the University of Cape Town (UCT) have collaborated to develop the Global Media Index that will engage in tracking and measuring the ways Africa is covered by top-tier global media outlets.
The Global Media Index will put twenty front line global media platforms to critically analyse their ways of telling Africa’s stories, the voices being heard, the prioritised topics as well as the general ways they are being covered.
The Global Media Index will also highlight best practices in reporting about Africa.
By drawing from a range of processes, including content analysis, institutional analysis and interviews with journalists working for global media outlets, the project aims to establish the dominant themes, narratives and journalistic practices shaping Africa’s image.
The Index is relevant because about one-third of African stories in news media outlets about the continent are sourced from foreign news services. The reports are often criticized for viewing Africa through the unfair lenses of poverty, corruption, institutional mismanagement, conflicts and diseases.
The research will be led by Herman Wasserman, a professor of Media Studies at UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies, who will work with Associate Professors Tanja Bosch, Wallace Chuma and Dr Meli Ncube, also from UCT, in collaboration with William Bird from Media Monitoring Africa.
The project intends to complement a number of initiatives under Africa No Filter’s disruption pillar, including Africa’s first news agency for human interest stories, bird, and the ethical storytelling handbook, How to Write About Africa in 8 Steps.
Moky Makura, the Executive Director of Africa No Filter, said: “Very few institutions are as powerful as the global news media. As storytellers to millions of audiences, the news media set agendas for policy-making, frame political debate and shape global public perceptions.
“The Global Media Index is part of our watchdog role and is designed to show what’s right rather than wrong with reporting on Africa. There is progress, and we have seen evidence that global news outlets have become more thoughtful about their coverage, but we are not entirely there, and our hope is for this Index to shine a beacon on who is doing this right.”
Also, Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center, called the Index necessary and timely, “If we are going to change narratives about the continent and its Diaspora so that they are more representative and reflective, we must have a baseline understanding of what those narratives are and where they reside. This Index is a step in the right direction.
“It will help to create a new qualitative and quantitative approach to understanding how journalists report on Africa and its people in addition to where the messages they share are most resonant in the international media landscape.”
The project is scheduled to launch this year.