A 12-month analysis on how the world’s television networks perceive Africa, reflected in the stories they cover, has painted a bleak picture of the continent, Media Tenor reports on Africa Day. The research focused on Africa’s image in global TV news between 1 May 2014 and 30 April 2015.
“Terrorism, civil war, political instability and the outbreak of Ebola, have focused international lenses on the continent, painting a bleak picture,” the media monitoring organisation said in a statement. “When it comes to reporting on Africa, unless a country is being wrecked by conflict, war or disease, it is unlikely to make global headlines.”
Reporting on South Africa was dominated by the xenophobic attacks that took place this year. “The attacks sparked international interest and focused attention on the country for all the wrong reasons. A review of the country’s most visible topics shows that positivity has virtually been a non-factor in global reporting, a factor which dents South Africa’s image,” said the report.
The research examined 234 967 reports across 15 different TV programmes on channels such as CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC One, BBC Two’s Newsnight, Le Journal, TVE 1 Telediario, ARD Tagesschau and ZDF Heute, among others. The research is drawn from 15 different channels from countries across the world, including Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
The research showed that with the Oscar Pistorius trial over and the athlete jailed for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the focus of global media has turned to political leaders, particularly Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari as a result of that country’s most competitive elections yet. Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi’s profile was boosted in the media, not least due to the fact that the country is one of the few “to have emerged from the Arab Spring unscathed by interstate violence”, reports Media Tenor.
The awful Garissa University attack in Kenya launched Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta into the headlines, and the ongoing crisis in Libya ensured Muammar Gaddafi’s legacy stayed in the spotlight. Interestingly, not a single South African leader made it to the top five since the start of 2015.
Basis: 603 reports/160 reports out of a total of 234 967 reports across 15 global TV news programmes
The research showed global television coverage on Africa “overwhelmingly focuses on negative aspects”, the report noted, with terrorism making headlines. Boko Haram in Nigeria has been a primary driver of this. However, Al-Shabaab in Kenya and a number of other groups operating across the Sahel continue to attract attention internationally.
The Ebola crisis, of course, played a major role in stories reported from the continent in 2014 but is subsiding in 2015 due to the dwindling number of reported cases. But that didn’t turn negative attention from Africa as international media attention generated volumes of coverage on conflict and domestic security. “Positivity for the African continent is limited, thus the continent is often painted as a place plagued by war and insecurity,” said the Media Tenor report.
Basis: 13 305 reports/3 908 reports out of a total of 234 967 reports across 15 Global TV news programmes
South Africa made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In 2015, despite being placed in the sixth position overall, South Africa had significantly less volume of coverage when compared to the top four.
Basis: 4 612 reports/184 reports out of a total of 234 967 reports across 15 Global TV news programmes