Around 2008, East Africa was connected to the world wide web via the subsea cable which linked the region via the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and South Africa. Gradually faster, cheaper mobile access to Internet led to a change in opportunities for communication in big parts of Africa.
And Africa used the opportunity to speak back – criticizing frequent misrepresentations in Western media. The Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina satirically told us how to, or not to, write about Africa with the essay ‘How to Write About Africa, and the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned of ‘The Danger of a Single Story’. Both writers set milestones when it comes to challenging stereotypical narratives of Africa.
Africa is unevenly represented in Danish media coverage in spite of the fact that some of the countries in the continent have been top recipients of Danish development aid since the 1960s. Moreover, much of mainstream communication of Africa frequently features perceptions of the continent, which were created centuries ago.
Africa, however, seems to have revoked a new interest which may challenge the trend of stereotypical narratives. Danish Broadcasting has assigned a correspondent covering the continent. Critical debate of how Africa is covered has also emerged among development actors and journalists.
These are some of the turning points for the seminar facilitated by CAS, where we hope to add new perspectives to the debate.
14:00-14.10 Welcome by Karen Lauterbach, Associate Professor, CAS
14:10-14:20 Representing Africa – what do we mean when we say ‘Africa’?
Amanda Hammar, Director and MSO Professor, CAS
What is Africa exactly, and how is it represented? What difference does it make when we communicate Africa as an idea or as a geographical location?
14:20-15:20 NGOs, mediatisation and Africa
A big part of the perception of Africa among the Danes is based of communication by NGOs that work in Africa. As NGOs have particular interests in how their activities are communicated, it creates certain dilemmas of how Africa is represented to the Danes. What’s the impact, and what can be done about it?
Ben Jones, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, University of East Anglia
Many international NGOs value those parts of their work that are suited to media representation: campaigning, advocacy, projects that produce the right sort of images. Using a case analysis of an international NGO, Ben Jones suggests that the concept of mediatisation might be a useful way to understand some of the changes observed in the NGO sector.
Morten Nielsen, Head of Secretariat of Afrika Kontakt
Afrika Kontakt has, as one of the few NGOs in Denmark, critiicised how Africa is commmunicated by development actors to the Danes. Other NGOs are less critical. What is at stake? What can be achieved?
Pernille Bærendtsen, Journalist and MA-student at CAS
Pernille has worked with NGOs and as independent journalist in Africa since 2005. She questions how Danish development actors’ own agendas dominate communication, and thus also ignore the diversity and nuances of what Africa also is. What happens when Danish NGOs have less ’monopoly’ on communicating the continent?
15:20 Round of questions from the audience
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-16:30 Perspectives on Africa in Danish Media
Is it a matter of choosing between a positive or a pessimistic approach? What is communicated and why? What informs the editorial choices made?
Søren Bendixen, Africa-Correspondent at Danish Broadcasting Cooperation (DR)
As newly appointed Africa-correspondent at DR, Søren Bendixen will talk about the plans for covering Africa in the news.
Stig Jensen, Associate Professor at CAS
Does Danish media prefer news from Africa that confirms a pessimistic perspective and what might be some of the reasons for this?
16:30-17:00 Questions & Debate
Moderator: Hanne Selsnæs, Journalist/Communication Advisor, Selnæs Kommunikation
The seminar will be held in English. The seminar is free but you will have to register participation at firstname.lastname@example.org the 22 March at noon at the latest.