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Arab and African journalists challenge Western dominance of media world

posted 28 Jul 2011, 03:46 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 28 Jul 2011, 03:50 ]
Arab and African journalists say they want to work together to improve the way their regions are portrayed by local and Western media.

ASSILAH, MOROCCO REUTERS -   Journalists from Arab and African countries say they want to see a more positive portrayal of their regions in the local and Western media and to cover more stories themselves from a local perspective.

At a recent conference in Morocco, over 70 participants from the Arab and African broadcast media discussed how they portray each other in their respective media.

The event, in the northern town of Assilah, was called "Africa in the eyes of the Arab world" but also gave African journalists an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on the Arab region.

"For me it's an important gathering because now we have an opportunity perhaps to see if we can be able to see the Arab world through the eyes of the Arabs themselves," said Mebat Mwewe, an editor for Zambia's Daily Mail.

The event also looked to highlight the global dominance of Western media and how the sub-Saharan and Arab regions can work together to tell local stories independently.

Participants said the Western media often portrayed both parts of the world with some misconceptions.

"The West has the means to have reporters everywhere. The West has a bit more freedom in our countries and tends to be more credible than our training establishment. But the West only sees Africa and the Arabs in terms of their own interests" said Mamadou Lamine Toure, a journalist from Senegal.

The uprisings that removed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak four weeks later threw the Arab world into the international media spotlight.

Arab media played a central role in telling the revolution story through mainstream and social media networks and African conference participants said they learnt a lot from their counterparts about the role of the media in a changing environment.

"For the last two days we have talked about a range of issues, starting from our governments: are they democracies? We were talking about, is the media is free? Are they facing the same problems? Yes. How do we get to know each other? Can we have exchange programmes? What else can we do to better our relationship?" said Hellen Mwiza from the Ugandan Broadcasting Corporation.

Journalists from both the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa said they would work to try and change each other's image by telling more positive stories from their regions, as well as opening up the possibility of a new world order in the media.

Conference participants said they hoped the media would play a crucial role in bringing the Arab and African worlds closer together.