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Transcript of Africa Illustrated
The Reasons Behind Africa's Misrepresentation
Dissecting the Stereotypes...
"Western journalists, especially in the United States, must, if we're going to do our jobs right, reflect the globe in the term globalization. And Africa is a part of that. It always has been a part of that."
Breaking It Down
This short video features journalists who have seen and understood how media can shape how western societies see and interpret African nations. They speak about the revenue side of the journalism industry and how that drives what makes it into the headlines of newspapers, news broadcasts, and pictures.
Monday, July 28, 2014
GHS 209 - Butler University
Africa the Continent
What can the media do to prevent the misrepresentation of African nations?
How to Write About Africa:
Africa is a diverse continent made up of 54 different countries, each with their own specific history. Many around the world refer to Africa as "the dark continent" because of the lack of knowledge of the history of many parts of Africa. The responsibility of print media, broadcast news stations, and internet news sources is to report the facts; the truth behind stereotypes, misconceptions, and deceiving world views. Although many of the stories that make the headlines often portray the bad things that happen in the many parts of the world every day, the media specifically have seemed to be the ones that have shaped the typical western view of the continent of Africa. The stories about African nations that are selected and the way they are presented in the media added to an already poor view of how Africa contributes to international affairs makes for an uphill battle to learn what is actually happening in each of these unique 54 countries. We westerners would never say that North America is a homogeneous continent. Why is this the case in how Africa is portrayed in media sources?
A Guide for Western Media
How Do We Really See Africa?
"We're messing with you. There's no such thing as charity actors. But in our video, did you recognize stereotypes frequently used in fundraising campaigns? Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. However,
we need to create engagement built on knowledge, not stereotypes.
Please view the following video. It is a comical depiction of some of the stereotypes of Africa that exist in Western civilizations.
The makers of this video had this to say in their description of the video:
Africa in Reality
Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
What this video implies:
Africa is a homongeneous continent.
Africans are sad.
All African families are broken and suffer from violence.
Africa deeply depends on international aid.
"Together, we can save Africa!" because Africa needs saving.
1. Media cannot speak about Africa and Africans in such a general sense...be specific as to exactly where in Africa people in news stories come from. Avoid grouping people or things as just African.
2. "To be reflecting the reality of what is going on on the ground in Africa, I would suggest that it should be told by the daughters and the sons of Africa, but those would be the daughters and the sons who are not only Africans, but to have actually become socially and politically conscious."
(Let Africans tell the story).
3. Hire reporters that actually live in Africa. Oftentimes, reporters from other countries who are covering stories in parts of Africa are there for a very brief time. Hiring local reporters gives a more valid perception of the story at hand and provides opportunities for things such as opinion pieces by other local people.
The intention of the previous video was to bring out a few of the stereotypes that Americans and other western societies have of Africa. Everyone has seen the commercials that portray these children in the most desolate conditions and ask you to do your part in saving Africans. According to Simon Moss, in a recent TED Talk about the myths of African poverty, there is about ninety billion dollars in international aid coming to Africa every year. However, this is only about 22.5% of the "400 billion dollars per year that leaves Africa in the form of natural resources." Africa is wealthier than a lot of media sources may portray the continent to be. The aid that is provided each year is not really that much money. Of course there are parts of Africa,
just like on other continents
, where poverty is a very dire issue. However, Africa does not by any means need to completely depend on our donations. It is a continent that is very capable of providing for itself.
The second common but overlooked stereotype in the video is that in the commercial they are making, they always refer to Africa as if it is one people or one nation in itself. In fact, the first line of the commercial says, "Somewhere in Africa...". It doesn't make sense to speak about Africa and Africans in such a general sense. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alone, there are more than two hundred different ethnicities that exist among those who live in the large nation. As Americans we are aware that the United States has many different cultural and regional differences throughout it, and most people are very proud of the state or region they are from. However, we are just one country. The continent of Africa, as mentioned before, is made up of 54 countries, all with their own unique societies. Therefore, the media has no right to generally speak of Africa and Africans.
These are just a few examples of the many perceptions that western societies have of Africa and Africans.
- Frank Sesno,
Director, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs, George Washington University
host of "Straight Talk Africa"
"Africa Is Poor and 5 Other Myths: Simon Moss at TEDxWarwick." YouTube. TEDx Talks, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 26 July 2014.
"Africa Media Coverage." YouTube. Voice of America, 6 Dec. 2010. Web. 26 July 2014.
"How to Write about Africa." Granta. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2014. <http://www.granta.com/Archive/92/How-to-Write-about-Africa/Page-1>.
"Let's save Africa! - Gone Wrong." YouTube. SAIH Norway, 8 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 July 2014.
Seay, Laura. "How Not to Write About Africa." Foreign Policy. N.p., 25 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 July 2014. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/25/how_not_to_write_about_africa >.
"What Is Africa?_Interview." YouTube. YouTube, 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 26 July 2014.
The first image depicts some of the words that come to mind when people think of Africa. The second image are some of the words that some Africans used to explain what Africa is.