DOI: https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2019.6(164).187619

Reaching the Unheard Voices and Hinterlands in the Digital Era: An Assessment of the re-Engineering of Newsgathering in Africa

Joseph Oluchukwu Wogu

Abstract


Historically, Africa is known to be backward in adoption of technology. History has it that Africa trailed behind in the use of new technology for newsgathering. Africa is the 2nd largest continent after Asia with over 60% of its population living widely dispersed in hinterlands whose insecure terrains, inaccessibility, and distance from cities, make it impossible for journalist and media broadcasts to cover their socio-economic, cultural and political activities. In addition to these factors, scarcity of journalists, costs and conflicts, inability of media industries to train and/or recruit enough journalists, government indifference and pro-urban communication policy made newsgathering in African hinterlands almost impossible. However, the evolution and reign of Internet-based technologies, which enable citizens to contribute to news-making, and information gathering and exchange became a solution. Nevertheless, it is confronted with pro-urban middle class relevance due to epileptic power, poor network, low level of education and technology skills, and lack of formal framework for newsgathering in the hinterlands. This paper, therefore, explores the dynamics of newsgathering in the technologically-driven internet era, with a view to identifying inherent limitations in African hinterlands, and therefrom offers profitable recommendations. Geographically, the study considers African rural communities. Thematically, the paper is an investigation into the acquisition and use new information technologies particularly phones with internet facilities to generate and circulate news from African hinterlands, factors hindering the practice and possible ways of enhancing it. Periodically, the study covers the 21st century i.e. 2000 to date, which has witnessed ICTs massive penetration of the hinterlands and their use as primary medium of communication. In exploring the digitalisation of communication in rural Africa where majority of the population lives without regular or formal connection to organs and channels of governance and events in the entire world, this paper is significant to the extent that it assess and exposes the challenges modernisation is facing in trying to provide solution to the scenario. It explores areas of investments in media and communication in rural Africa, and attempts to provide viable alternatives to the problems hindering internet-mediated-technologies approach to newsgathering in rural Africa. It provides approaches to the democratisation of newsgathering and circulation, which opens up rural Africa to the global community and for participation in e-governance, global dialogue and discussions in every aspect of human development, rights and politics. This paper adopted logical inquiry, survey of literature and expost facto methods of data gathering. Central to these methods, extensive literature review was primarily adopted as data gathering processes. This is because of the wealth of literature, debates and criticism available on the new media, newsgathering, and the African experience particularly the hinterlands. This will explicate new areas of investments in communication technologies and provide valid framework for newsgathering across Africa, which will inevitably advance globalisation into and enhance development in African hinterlands.

Keywords


Newsgathering; Hinterlands; Africa; Internet-based technologies; Globalisation; development

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References


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Gerlitz C. What counts? Reflections on the multivalence of social media data. Digital Culture & Society. 2011. 2 (2). Pp. 19-38.

 

Gicheru C. W. The Challenges Facing Independent Newspapers in Sub-Saharan Africa. University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, 2014.

 

Gillmor Dan. We the media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people. Sebastopol, California: O’ Reilly, 2006.

 

Goldfain K., Van der Merwe N. The role of the political blog: the case of www.commentary.co.za. Communicare. 2006. Pp. 103-124.

 

Harrison T., Barthel B. Wielding new media in Web 2.0: Exploring the history of engagement with the collaborative construction of media products. New Media & Society. 2009. 11 (1-2). DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/1461444808099580.

 

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