The Africa Center, narrative change organisation Africa No Filter, Media Monitoring Africa and the University of Cape Town (UCT) have joined forces to develop the Global Media Index that will track and measure the way Africa is covered by top global media outlets.
The Global Media Index will put 20 leading global media platforms under the microscope to analyse how they tell Africa’s stories, whose voices are being heard, which topics are prioritised, and how they are covered. The Global Media Index will also highlight best practices in reporting on the continent.
The project will draw on a range of methods, including content analysis, institutional analysis and interviews with journalists working for global media outlets. The aim is to establish the dominant themes, narratives and journalistic practices shaping the image of Africa.
The Index is important as one-third of all African stories in news outlets on the continent are sourced from foreign news services. Global media reports are often criticised for viewing the continent through the lenses of disease, poverty, conflict, corruption, and poor leadership.
The Global Media Index is the latest project funded jointly by Africa No Filter and The Africa Center focused on media narratives of Africa. The research will be led by Herman Wasserman, Professor in Media Studies at UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies, working with Associate Professors Tanja Bosch and Wallace Chuma and Dr Meli Ncube, also from UCT, in collaboration with William Bird from Media Monitoring Africa.
The Global Media Index will complement a suite 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, 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.”
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.”
Herman Wasserman added: “The objective is not to promote uncritically positive ‘sunshine journalism’, but rather to showcase well-crafted, properly investigated, ethically sound and impactful journalism that takes the African continent seriously in all its diversity and complexity, empowers African citizens to participate in democratic participation and meaningful conversations about the continent, and contributes to a better understanding of African societies, politics and culture within a globalised world.”
The Global Media Index will be launched in 2022. For more information, please visit www.africanofilter.org
About Africa No Filter
Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative shifting stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa through research, grant-making, community building and advocacy by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms, and driving disruption campaigns. It is funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation, the British Council and Hewlett Foundation.
About The Africa Center
The Africa Center is transforming the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora, and the role of people of African descent in the world. Serving as the hub for the exchange of ideas around culture, business and policy as related to the continent, and in the spirit of collaboration and engagement with individuals and institutions who share the Center’s values, The Africa Center inspires enthusiasm, advances thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on our collective futures. The Africa Center’s physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City. Learn more by visiting www.theafricacenter.org.
About The Centre for Film and Media Studies, UCT
Established in 2004, the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town offers a range of courses that equip graduates with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to embark on a career in the film and media industry. Many of the Centre’s alumni have found entry-level posts in the media, film, and television industries as well as in advertising, marketing, and education.