The continent of Africa is commonly portrayed in global media as underdeveloped, underprivileged and delayed. Furthermore, it is often thought of as the world’s ‘problem child’, in constant need of saving by the developed world. Is this really the current state of Africa? Or is the continent simply victimised by what is known as “bad news reporting”, where the world fixates on negative happenings in the continent which then go on to overshadow positive developments?
According to research by Media Tenor, the majority of African countries only receive prominent amounts of coverage in global media when the subject matter is negative. “This tendency to focus on the negative, while neglecting positive news coverage, is partly due to media sensationalism. Negative stories tend to be more dramatic, and thereby draw the attention of more readers” says Michael Matern, Researcher at Media Tenor.
This trend is obvious when one examines the dominant African stories of 2014, namely the Ebola outbreak and terrorist acts by Boko Haram, specifically when 276 school girls were kidnapped by the group. This story generated global outcry, with various international leaders denouncing the act. However, positive issues such as Namibia’s successful implementation of electronic elections – the first of its kind in Africa – went almost unnoticed in the global media stage.
Africa’s global reputation reached a peak in 2010 as the world turned its attention to South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup. Once this passed however, Africa’s reputation began a steady decline as the world once again focused on the challenges faced by the developing continent. “Africa has been repeatedly victimised by bad news reporting. Breaking free from this convention will be a difficult but necessary task, if Africa is to compete in the global media arena” said Matern.
This research is based on the analysis of 104951 reports in global media. 18197 of the reports analysed focused exclusively on Africa