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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Media in Africa: What is the future?
Africa's journalists are in trouble. From Tunisia to Zimbabwe, the media is under fire.

Africa can be a dangerous place for journalists to work in. Only last year a prominent Mozambican journalist was assasinated.

They've been locked up in Liberia, a satirist has been arrested in DR Congo, and Ethiopia has recently been named as one of the world's worst places to be a journalist.

But are they irresponsible troublemakers or brave crusaders struggling to tell the truth in the face of oppression? Are Africa's journalists the salt or the scum of the earth?

A selection of your e-mails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.

I think it's about time journalists showed responsibility

Jim Onyango, Kenya
As a news reporter working in Nairobi, Kenya, I've realised that journalists are trouble shooters and have helped fuel conflicts beyond all proportion. Some issues need not be reported but this crop of people will never rest until they see people clashing left, right and centre because of their stories. I think it's about time journalists showed responsibility and practised balanced journalism.
Jim Onyango, Kenya

They are both. Most are motivated by politics and self-enrichment, as much as by the truth. They are mostly incapable of presenting a balanced report on any topic. There are definitely exceptions. However, they are very few in number. Regardless, they should be encouraged and trained more since they play a vital role in society. Their service is appreciated.
Hauza, USA/ Ethiopia

African journalists in so far as they do not criticise the Government are good citizens. But once they write and speak against the Government they become troublemakers. Tell me, who is a troublemaker? One who fights for his people or the one who betrays them?
Hamilton Arrey Ayuk, Cameroon/ USA

As a human rights activist I have worked on behalf of journalists for the last 4 years

Scott Morgan, USA
As a human rights activist I have worked on behalf of journalists for the last 4 years. Those who face persecution from the governing parties deserve all the support, respect and defence that we as freedom loving persons can give. In May I will meet two of those journalists as they come here to the USA to speak on freedom of the press. We in the West do not know how much freedom we have.
Scott Morgan, USA

For African journalists to be credible they need better education in addition to the skills they already possess. Too often they are simplistic in their approach, making sweeping statements on issues of the economy and governance. Very few seem to understand the systemic problems that exist in the international economic system and they are unable to question their government borrowing policies etc.
Kit Molio, Zimbabwe

African society is a rather tricky and dangerous place for journalist who are often expected to remove the coal from the fire with their bare hands, yet, neglected by a terrified society when they are persecuted. As long as rulers have something hide in passive African society, and remain greedy for power and wealth, journalists, who work asthe voice of the voiceless and terrified, will always provide easy scapegoats for corrupt dictators.
Nyekeh Forkpa, Liberian Journalist/ currently in USA

African journalists are our warriors

Mohamed Adan, Norway
African journalists are our warriors, our heroes, the men and women on the war front, fighting for freedom of speech. They are fighting against a leadership that sees any questions as being a threat to their very survival. Why is it so risky to be a journalist in Africa? With so many dictators around, there is no room for any debate or discussion.
Mohamed Adan, Norway

I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Adi Ada

Journalism is no longer a noble profession in Nigeria. In fact Nigerian journalists are among the most corrupt and vulnerable to manipulations of the highest bidder. Talk about being brave? I don't think so because even the so-called magazines such as "Tell" and "The News" are either on the payroll of foreign embassies or out there intimidating gullible public servants to pay for the cover-up of damning stories they usually cook up against them.
A. Mohammed Bashir, Nigeria

Most African journalists are extremely brave and are paving a way for democracy in the continent. The conflicts we are seeing are actually positive, showing that communities want greater freedoms and a free press. Today there are more independent newspapers and reporters. Africa should build on that.
Dave McPherson, USA

What you analyse and critically report today may earn you respect tomorrow

Dagne Tolla, Ethiopia
I very much appreciate the existence of a free press and journalists who actually publish balanced reports regarding the good and ills of their society. However, some journalists by being guided either by their political alignments or by virtue of working for a government paper create more confusion and bias in society, instead of enlightening it. Therefore, I call upon all journalists in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia to abide by the ethics of their profession regardless of their support for one political group or another. What you analyse and critically report today may earn you respect tomorrow.
Dagne Tolla, Ethiopia

How can those who report the truth be considered "troublemakers"? A free and independent society has as its cornerstone 'freedom of speech'. Only those who would wish to distort this freedom, which unfortunately includes virtually all African dictators have anything to gain.
Steve, USA

Why should we keep seeking the truth from a few "journalists" when we can happily natter on the net and exchange real info?
Akilas, Cyberia

Journalists are viewed by the Government as being big-time criminals because they expose the truth of what is happening. As a result most journalists in Africa do not have the right to speak or write on issues that are valid and critical.
Teshome H, Canada/ Markham

African governments, like any other, dislike criticism from the media but their reaction to criticism is appalling and shameful to say the least. Instead of working to ensure that there is nothing to criticise, they work to ensure that there is no-one to criticise them.
Makumba, Czech Republic

See also:

02 Mar 01 | Africa
Morocco editors jailed
28 Jan 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe newspaper bombed
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