Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

This week’s articles and podcast focus heavily on the role of media and the advancements of technology in the development of Africa. Folu Ogundimu’s podcast Mass Media and Democracy is an interview discussion on the conditions and trends of media in Africa, and goes into detail about his views of the democratization of Africa and the role of media in its revitalization. Yes, there were huge obstacles to the popularization of democracy within Africa, but with media people were able to resist institutional forms of oppression and express their own liberated views and concerns regarding their countries state and its actions. This is emphasized because Ogundimo believes that the real story being missed is the extent of influence the media sector had on the revival of the African sector. A growth of the private world began in the 1990s with early transformations of modern media, and has allowed a space in which individuals with access to some sort of social media platform can voice their opinions, and use it as a means of communication with few to no retributions. Freedom of the press revolutionized an era of personal opinion, and a private sector in media that has significantly stabilized in improvements. The point that I found stuck out the most to me during the podcast was when Folu says that without a portion of press under foreign ownership, Africa would continue to lack behind in terms of development of press in comparison to the rest of the world. Although they pride themselves off of Africa’s recent private development of press, there is always foreign influence in news coverage and information distribution. Another question is raised in regards to whether or not the press is “an agenda setter, or an agenda follower?” I find this extremely relevant in not only analyzing media’s role in the democratization of Africa, but also observing whether or not democracy was a driving force of technological advancement and press improvements.

I drew a lot of connections between Folu Ogundimu’s podcast and Zeleza’s The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa, which analyzes the media’s influence on the development, construction, and articulation of collective identities within African society. There are four main conceptions of the media that are summarized as serving as a vehicle of transmission of ideas, information and images, it is a space for public communication, sign of communication and communities, and lastly they constitute a means to perform social identities and identify social performances of others. In relation to the podcast, Ogundimo says that sometimes there is a glorification of foreign politics that does not focus on political action or crisis within their own country, which can be classified as ‘mass communication media’. This could in large part be an explanation for the statement that democratization has been critical to the growth of the media, and the media have been critical to the growth of democracy in contemporary Africa.

Do you feel as though democracy in Africa was a result of technological advancement and the introduction of a private sector for public opinion and communication, or do you think that strategies of mass media communication promote an independent voice by the press to promote the popularization of democracy?

Do you think that with the commercialization of mass media, private media corporations within Africa will be able to compete with foreign corporations and increasing commodity?

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