Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

The podcast Mass Media and Democracy focuses on the development of mass media in Africa for roughly the past 50 years, using specific African countries as examples of this transformation. These changes are related to the formation of a new type of democracy, one that with freedom intertwined in it, unlike systems prior. There are two key points discussed that stood out. Firstly, significant light was shed on the role indigenous African individuals play in relation to private ownership, discussing how the population is highly involved in capital ownership, not merely foreign investors and companies. In addition to this, many of the best podcasts are not foreign, but rather are African and conducted in local languages. This indicates that local Africans have a larger hand in media than I first thought. Secondly, the underlying motivation of the press is critiqued, asking “Is the press a trend setter or follower?” This is a complex notion and can be argued both ways, with most claiming it is a trendsetter, due to conglomerates using the press to portray a very specific image to the public. With six large media conglomerates owning the news and media methods, they all tell a very similar story and thus, it is integral to understand how this can be understood as a form of exploitation and manipulation.

The article Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media discusses the implications of tweets about the activities of Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group. Numerous comments and tweets are examined to understand their pragmatic meaning. Using a pragmatic style of writing is understood to release a variety of emotions, particularly to a complex occurrence like this, and provides a fair opportunity to everyone to vent their thoughts in a (mostly) safe environment.

In the article, The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa, a large variety of communication methods in the media are assessed including radio, TV, print and Internet. These forms are connected to the social growth of Africa. A thought-provoking idea surrounds the flow of information and media. The media in the global north and south do not interact in a reciprocal relationship, but rather it is largely streamed from the north to the south, with little going the other way. For example, there is no CNN-like outlet in Africa, thus there is no massive, influential corporation that can project Africa to the rest of the world. This is problematic because Africa lacks a method to define themselves and their particulars, but rather has every nation defining them. This causes a biased, inaccurate view of the events that occur in Africa, with the wrong words associated with the continent, such as “tribalism”. Knowing this, how can Africa’s stigma be erased or become a way of the past? What will it take for Africa to develop their own CNN and broadcast to the world who they are and where they are heading as a continent? Conglomerations depict Africa in a very particular way, paying little attention to accuracy, how much longer will this exploitation to the public continue? Will there ever be a time where the media is expressed in a non-biased voice, depicting Africa in a fair image?

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