Sunday, September 09, 2007

Negative images- Africa complained, the west has responded

By Rebecca Wanjiku

The longest and loudest complaint by African leaders is that western media portrays Africa as desperate and hopeless, the west has now responded.

The complaints have been directed to the global media houses such as CNN, BBC, AP, AFP and Reuters accused of only covering civil wars, hunger, corruption and deprivation in Africa- these are form the bulk of African content on the internet.

Well, the response does not come from the big media, but from a group of Dutch journalists who felt the situation should change and started a website- www.africanews.com.

Africanews.com is a website dedicated to Africans to tell their stories to the world without any inhibitions. The website is targeting politics, social as well as the economic challenges and successes in the continent.

The stories, photographs and video are uploaded to the site and have reached audiences in Europe, America, Australia, Asia and Africa. This is calculated to improve on variety and content of stories available of the internet.

According to Elles van Gelder, the South African representative, the website has received critical acclaim and is hoping to recruit journalists and bloggers from every African country.

“Why should western media fly in journalists while there are local journalists willing to tell the stories? We tap the talent, train them, and they become better writers, photographers and can take good videos,” said van Gelder.

The organisation has started a pilot project for reporting using state of the art mobile phones that can shoot video and upload to the website. This project will be tested during the general elections in Kenya, scheduled for December this year.

To establish the reliability of mobile phones in reporting Van Gelder said a group of Dutch students will embark on an Africa-wide trip, testing the mobile phones and the challenges faced.

This, van Gelder added, will help improve the quality of African content available on the internet, and the stories that come from the continent.
Ends

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