In the midst of a media blackout, Burundians turn to WhatsApp for information


In the midst of a media blackout, Burundians turn …

Burundi’s radio stations, traditionally the most popular source for news in the East African country, have been all but shut down since a failed coup last May. In the wake of the coup attempt, President Pierre Nkurunziza cracked down on the independent press, including the country’s “big four” independent channels: Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Radio Bonesha, Radio Isanganiro and Radio Télé Renaissance. All were destroyed by presidential loyalists on May 14, forcing journalists into exile and plunging Burundi into a media blackout.
Radio Isanganiro was allowed to resume broadcasting on February 19 alongside Rema FM,…

A Reprieve for Kenyan Journalists


A Reprieve for Kenyan Journalists

Kenyan journalists have won a temporary reprieve from two laws that they say would put significant new restrictions on media freedom by imposing a code of conduct written and enforced by a government-appointed panel.
The laws, set for enactment early this year, were postponed in January when a court ordered a judicial review that could take several months to complete, according to journalists in Nairobi.
Both laws passed swiftly through the Kenyan Parliament in late 2013, in the wake of government attacks on media for their reporting on how authorities handled last September’s siege at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.
But some journalists say…

Twitter triggers tension between free speech and censorship


Twitter triggers tension between free speech and …

In late January, Twitter shut down the account of the Somali militant group al Shabaab, apparently for violating the Twitter Ruleagainst publishing “direct, specific threats of violence against others.” Less than two weeks later, though, the al Qaeda-linked group was back on the social media site with a different username – the latest evidence, say critics, that Twitter’s policing policy needs an overhaul to prevent use by groups identified as “terrorists” by the U.S. government.
Al Shabaab’s first Twitter account, @HSMPress, was launched in December 2011. Twitter deactivated that account in January after it published plans to…

Telling the story of Kenya’s elections


Telling the story of Kenya’s elections

By N G Onuoha |
Minutes before the start of Kenya’s first-ever presidential debate on February 11, Al Jazeera East Africa correspondent Peter Greste prepared for a live broadcast from a bar in the country’s capital city, Nairobi. Outside, a parked satellite truck connected Greste to Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar. Surrounding him were the cheers, laughter and chatter of a crowd gathered to watch the making of political history.
“Doha told me that we’ll stick with [the debate] for a little while, until they go to an ad,” Greste said in a Skype interview. In fact, the channel brought the three-hour Kenyan debate to its…

Looking For The Real Africa in Western Media Coverage


Looking For The Real…

“I can’t find a normal picture of Africa!” wailed Rebecca Moundio, an assistant editor for Africa Renewal, a magazine covering economic issues on the continent.
Sifting through a database of images captured in various African countries, all she could find were pictures of children with…

America’s voice to the voiceless


America’s voice to the voiceless

In Ethiopia, the government controls all domestic media and blocks websites critical of those in power. One tactic for keeping media in line is imprisonment; the Committee to Protect Journalists calls Ethiopia one of the leading jailers of reporters on the continent. Threats and intimidation have forced more than 70 Ethiopian journalists into exile, where some write political blogs – whose words can’t be read in Ethiopia.
That leaves Ethiopia’s 82 million people almost entirely cut off from independently reported news.
“Besides what the government provides,” said Seeye Abraha, a former Ethiopian defense minister and current…

Media Controls Continue in Egypt Despite Revolution


Media Controls Conti…

Al-Tahrir, CBC, Masr 25. These private television channels are among the many news media outlets that have sprung up in Egypt since the forced resignation of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak early last year.  Opposition political figures who once had little or no access to the news…

The Long View on Kony

In 1997, journalist Elizabeth Rubin went to Acholiland, in northern Uganda, to investigate atrocities committed by a notoriously ruthless gang of guerrillas, the Lord’s Resistance Army. She spent five weeks talking with a Catholic school nun whose female students were seized in a nighttime raid by the LRA, with some of the students who survived that ordeal, and with former child soldiers and families of children kidnapped by the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, who, like the other residents of the region, is an ethnic Acholi.
Rubin’s gripping story about Kony, the LRA and children recruited to fight for it spread across nine pages of the…

Kenya Media Invasion


Kenya Media Invasion

Global state-funded television news channels like Al Jazeera, China’s CCTV and RT (formerly Russia Today) have proliferated in recent years — and now they’re expanding, with a host of new services that tailor the news to local interests.
Al Jazeera, for example, has hired close to 200 people for an all-Turkish channel. RT now offers Spanish-language reports. And at CCTV, programs that debuted early this year include “Biz Asia America,” a daily business show targeted at the U.S., and “Americas Now,” a weekly newsmagazine for Latin America.
But one of the busiest new markets for the global…