NewsNorth AfricaAfricans support vibrant media, survey shows


Posted on Wednesday, 04 May 2016 16:04

Africans support vibrant media, survey shows

By Crystal Orderson

In a new trend this year, several governments cut off social media during elections. Photo©ReutersThe main findings released on World Press Freedom showed that a majority of African citizens supported the media's "watchdog" role, saw the media as effective in revealing government mistakes and corruption, and affirmed that journalists "rarely" or "never" abuse their freedom by publishing lies.

The report titled "Strong public support for 'watchdog' role backs African news media, which is under attack from authoritarian governments.

Afrobarometer's Sibisiso Nkomo told The Africa Report the report was based on nearly 54,000 interviews in 36 African countries in 2014/2015. He said two countries, mainly Soa Tome and Gabon were included in this year's study for the first time.

In Southern Africa Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo were not included in the study.

Some of the findings included that a "majority of Africans (54%) across 36 countries believe the news media should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government control, while 42% say government should have the right to prevent publications that it "considers harmful to society."

Across the 34 countries where this question was asked in both Round 5 (2011/2013) and Round 6, support for media freedom is down three percentage points.

Another finding showed that more than two-thirds (69%) of Africans said the news media should "constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption." This was the majority view in every surveyed country except Egypt.

Nkomo said the findings also showed that radio remained the most common news source on the continent. The medium is accessed by seven in 10 Africans either daily (47%) or "a few times a week" (22%).

However, the study also showed that radio and newspapers were slowly losing their magic touch, while television and the Internet gaining ground.

One in five Africans (21%) now regularly get their news from social media, and among youth and citizens with post-secondary education, the Internet and social media were more popular sources of news compared to newspapers.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa.

In a new trend this year, several governments including Uganda and Chad cut off social media and other forms of communication during elections. The ban made it difficult or almost impossible for media outlets to report on incidents of violence or interference in the electoral processes.

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