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COVID-19 and the Media in Sub-Saharan Africa: Media viability, Framing and Health Communication

By Jimmy Siyasa

This book, published by Emerald Publishing House, is an amalgam of research works seeking the nexus between Media and COVID-19 from a diversity of perspectives, though with a strict focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 led to a rise in research studies seeking to understand the nexus between Media and COVID-19. However, little attention had been paid to this subject in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. This book is an attempt to address this research gap by providing a comprehensive overview of the role of media in the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. It contains contributions from leading scholars in the field, with many of them active academics and industry players at Uganda Christian University (UCU), who offer a variety of perspectives on the topic.

The book is edited by Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega of NLA University College, Norway, and Dr. Angella Napakol of Uganda Christian University, Uganda.

ABRIDGED FOREWORD

Click here to get the Full Book

COVID-19 and the Media in Sub-Saharan Africa is among the first books uniting scholars to examine media viability, framing and health crisis communication connected to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. The findings may be applicable also to other global crises, both in and outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, and may help practitioners and scholars alike to understand the complexity of preconditions and structures of media ecologies.

The highly diverse cases are characterized by the authors’ first-hand knowledge of the media in the Sub-Saharan African context. Focusing on newly collected cases from a broad number of countries, the authors study whether the pandemic changed the conditions for media viability, framing, and outreach. It also covers concrete examples of how the specific health communication led to changes in social behaviour and mental health. Last, but not least, it provides gendered and marginalisation lenses to understand barriers for media users and media producers.

The highly diverse cases are characterized by the authors’ first-hand knowledge of the media in the Sub-Saharan African context. Focusing on newly collected cases from a broad number of countries, the authors study whether the pandemic changed the conditions for media viability, framing, and outreach. It also covers concrete examples of how the specific health communication led to changes in social behaviour and mental health. Last, but not least, it provides gendered and marginalisation lenses to understand barriers for media users and media producers.

Throughout the pandemic, publishing houses in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world faced severe obstacles. In different ways, the pandemic influenced the room for manoeuvres. Different conditions were involved and influenced whether media content was published, and with what quality. Three factors were key: political conditions, financial resources, and the level of journalistic expertise. If there was political room for manoeuvre, if there were sufficient financial resources, and if there was a high level of competence, the media was often found to disseminate independent, critical, and research-based information, monitor public institutions, and provide a platform for public debate and dialogue.

The authors connect these factors with media viability and media framing. Based on empirical data and theoretical perspectives, they challenge traditional understandings of media. To understand factors preventing and promoting critical and fact-based media during the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers looked at both the media’s finances and priorities, the individual journalist’s competence and resilience, and the political influence that publishing houses and journalists were exposed to through propaganda and restrictions on media freedom.

Margot Skarpeteig Program Manager– Human Rights, Inclusion and Empowerment, the World Bank

Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Book

New Book: Dralega, C.A., and Napakol, A. (eds). Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

A Review

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent.

The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, and unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more.

This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.

Foreword

…Some African responses on media and health issues are examined in this book by a whole new generation of public health communicators who are homegrown, African graduates, sometimes of international research and training collaborations, who are responding to their own particular national environments. Just as African scholarship and health campaign strategy can positively inform global approaches, the support of the big Northern publishers—in this case, Springer—is just as important. Where the earlier generation cut their teeth on HIV/AIDS, the new generation seems destined to deal with successive and increasingly intense and interrelated crises: health, climate change and environmental degradation. Thus this is one book that can speak intelligently to these issues from the perspective of the Global South. And, the task that they are taking on is herculean.

Foreword by Keyan Gray Tomaselli– University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

The book cover and contents can be accessed here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-95100-9

About the Editors

Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. Angella Napakol is a researcher and Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

U.S. Embassy sponsors multimedia training for UCU journalism students

By Yasiri J. Kasango
Thirty Uganda Christian University (UCU) students in the School of Journalism, Media and Communication have multi-media skills compliments of training sponsored by the United States Embassy in Uganda.  The students were trained for two weeks in February 2022.

Ultimate Multimedia Consult, a journalism and communications organization based in Kampala, conducted the training.

For the first week of the training, the students were taught how to write stories and to incorporate video, audio, photos, text and animation. The second week of the training was reserved for practical exercises, where the students were sent to the field to gather information and generate multimedia stories.

John Semakula, head of undergraduate studies at the UCU School of Journalism, Media and Communication, hands award to Elsie Tukahirwa after the training.
John Semakula, head of undergraduate studies at the UCU School of Journalism, Media and Communication, hands award to Elsie Tukahirwa after the training.

Before applying the skills outside the training room, the students pitched their ideas before a panel comprised of embassy officials, trainers from Ultimate Multimedia Consult and UCU lecturers.

The training comes at a time when the university is focusing its energies on producing all-round multimedia journalism graduates who are able to meet the realities in the current journalism job market.

Stories of Asenath Were, a second-year student, and Steven Kolawole, who is in third year, were considered the best.

“I’m grateful for everything I learnt in the training, and most especially the gadgets I got,” Kolawwole said.

Writers of the best four stories having multimedia components were awarded cash and technology with a directive to use their new equipment to produce products for UCU – namely for the Standard and UCU Partners. The first two – Were and Kolawwole – were given a smartphone, a tripod stand, and sh100,000 (about $28). The third and fourth-best stories were of Elsie Tukahire Kukunda and Irene Best Nyapendi. Kukunda and Nyapendi were awarded sh400,000 (about $113) each.

Asenath Were praised the US Embassy and Ultimate Multimedia Consult.

“I can’t believe that I was able to perform well since my story pitch looked shaky,” she said. “I am speechless.”

Prof. Monica Chibita, Dean of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, gives award to Aseneth Were, the best female student in multimedia story composition.
Prof. Monica Chibita, Dean of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, gives an award to Asenath Were, the best female student in multimedia story composition.

To further instill the need for students to acquire modern, real-world skills, in 2021, Uganda Partners, under a mentoring collaborative with students from the UCU School of Journalism, Media and Communication, embarked on a podcasting mentoring project, where students apply classroom learning to script podcast material, conduct interviews and edit audio. The podcast initiative is part of the UCU/Uganda Partners e-lab model initiated in January 2021 and is aligned with the university’s mission to prepare students for both continued learning and the world of work.

U.S. Kampala embassy spokesperson Anthony Kujawa and his deputy, Dorothy Nanyonga, commended Ultimate Multimedia Consult and UCU for spearheading the training of students.

“Multimedia is the future of communication in the world today,” Kujawa said, encouraging students to embrace the model to tell their stories.

At the closing ceremony, the Dean of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Prof. Monica Chibita, commended the U.S. Embassy for choosing to partner with UCU in many aspects, including the Save the Mothers’ project and the Fulbright scholarships.

Chibita also thanked Ultimate Multimedia Consults for training UCU staff during the Covid-19 lockdown and encouraged students to keep in mind journalism ethics while telling stories using the multimedia platforms.

Ultimate Multimedia Consult team leader Gerald Businge thanked UCU, and particularly the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, for the opportunity given to him to train students.

Prof.  Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, the Director for Research Partnerships and Innovations at UCU, urged the trainees to put into practice the skills that they had acquired.