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REPORTING AFRICA IN THE GLOBAL AGE:
THE DIFFERENCE GLOBALISATION MAKES



        An Essay Exam on Fall 2008 Course:
         REPORTING GLOBAL CHANGE



                         By


           AUSTEN UCHE UWOSOMAH




           Instructor: Hans-Henrik Holm,
             Professor of World Politics,
    Danish Sch. of Journalism / Aarhus University
2

Introduction



Countries the world over are now reaching crescendo in

interrelations due to universal pruning of restrictions on flow of

all facets of human activities across territorial borders of earth

for maximal international relations. This bloom in international

relations further paves way for a better term to describe the

radical evolvement of international movement of all the facets

of human activities from multi trans-border regions to a trans-

global throttle. It is perhaps because of this that the term

‘globalization’ was hatched to describe the phenomena.

However, for the purpose of this essay, ‘globalization’ will be

viewed from positions made by two scholars videlicet: Jan Aart

Scholte and Nick Bisley with recourse to their individual

definitions of globalisation; their definitions’ differences and

similarities; how their definitions are useful to international

reporting and the difference that globalization makes in terms

of reporting of Africa.



Scholte’s Definition


Scholte     (2005:49)   likens   globalization   to   ‘globality’.   He

describes it as a centripetal constriction of the social space
3


and time between earthly people due to “the spread of

tranplanetary- and in recent times and also more particularly

supraterritorial         connections      between        people”       In   his

explanation, ‘tranplanetary’ “refers to social links between

people located at points anywhere on earth.” That is the

‘transworld’ social contact that “…is manifested across

multiple areas of social life…” all of which can go any where

but perhaps not everywhere due to marks on some territorial

limitations. Also, he describes supraterritoriality as “social

connections            that     substantially        transcend     territorial

geography”.            Like    when    human    social    activities   further

transcend        territorial     limitations    to    become     transworld

occurrence            making    them    “transworld      simultaneity       and

instantaneity”.




Bisley’s Definition


Bisley (2007:30) hinges his definition of globalization on the

vast array of the interconnected changes it has caused in the

spheres of human life. Bisley did not suffice a concrete

definition. Rather, he explains that globalization is “a set of

related social, political and economic consequences of a series

of transformation in the social world, though the causal
4


character of relationships is uneven and often very unclear”.

Bisley means that globalization is a manifest consequence due

to   mediating       factors   like   reduced     cost   of    mobility   and

increased speed and rate in the flow of social life and its

activities across the world. He says changes in social life

practices as a result of globalization have produced a set of

consequences           which   has    in   turn   influenced     the   social

behaviour of institutions in the world order.                 He infers that

concern should be on the effect in human behaviors that form

sufficient volumes in the terrestrial flows and as well the

institutions that are created to govern those behaviors.




Definitions’ Similarities


Their definitions’ meeting point is rooted in the commonality

they both have with regards to planetary social movements

and connections. Both definitions recognize the importance of

human activities mobility and social space as platforms for

globalization. And posit the state, multinational agencies and

individuals as important actors. Also, both definitions recognize

the supreme importance of the state as powerful dominant

actor.
5

Definitions’ Differences


Differences in the duo definitions can be viewed from the

standpoint of Scholte’s underpinning of globalization on the

tranplanetary        and     supraterritorial      connections     between

peoples of the world; the compression of social space and

time due to massive improvement on technologies that have

aided     social     life   mobility   and     communication.      (Scholte,

2005:49)



Conversely, Bisley makes none of these underscores. He infers

that while social space and time compression maters, but it

does not form the main crux. Rather, concern should be on the

way changes to patterns of economic and other social

practices      due    to    globalization,    have     aggregate   flow   on

consequences for the social institutions that govern human life

(Bisley, 2007:30).



Definitions’ Usefulness to International Reporting from Africa


International reporting practice means giving information and

some kind of education and entertainment to the global

audience. In addition to that, it also involves steering and

anchoring opinion, keeping surveillance and as well setting
6


agenda        for    global     debate.       Before   globalization   became

catapulted          to   its   present   day    frenzy,    international   news

reporting, did not use the modern time sublunary (cyber space)

media. It was limited to internationally circulated news journals

and celestial transnational satellite radio and cable TV signals.

International news reporting has now entered into the era of

transplanetary and supraterritorial transverse within earth’s

social space. The outcome of this development to international

reporting of news across the world, is “…the rapid acceleration

of communication that shows little regard for geographic

constraints” (Harvey, 1989; Robertson, 1992).

Both Scholte’s and Bisley’s concepts of globalization are

useful to international reporting particularly from a far-reaching

continent as Africa. According to Scholte (2005:62) “the global

mass media spread messages simultaneously to transworld

audiences”. Scholte by this is noting the shrink in social space.

Africa   is    brought         closer    to   the   rest   of   the   world   via

supraterritorial dissemination of news about the continent by

international news organs to the global audiences. Thus news

from Africa has become ubiquitous in the world.



‘Simultaneity’, ‘instantaneity’, ‘ubiquity’, are evidence of

social space and time compression. However, this is not
7


possible if social forces were not involved. Thus the institutions

of people who are involved in the dissemination of news across

the world; the other social structures that govern these

institutions practice; and the people who make up the global

audiences as well the social practices that ignite the events

that are covered and reported as news from the continent

have dominant influence and consequences on the way news

from Africa is reported in the global age.



Other imperatives are in terms of the level of understanding

the world audience have about Africa. The editorial policy

framework of international media structures and as well,

perhaps most importantly, domestic journalistic gambits which

manifest through localization of international news. Bisley

recounts   this   when    he        reiterated   Anthony    Giddens’

submission of globalization as “the intensification of worldwide

social relations which link distant localities in such a way that

local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles

away and vice versa” (Giddens, 1996:64). Thus foreign news

becomes    influenced    by   the    way   the   international   media

structures localize what they see and how they want to see it.
8

The Difference that Globalization Makes in Reporting of Africa


A visible impact of globalization is that political ideas, economic

events and communication spread much more than before. As

corollary, globalization with recourse to international reporting

of news across the world has made tremendous difference to

the practice particularly in the way news spread in terms of

distance and time. The international mass media outlets have

had need to recreate structural methodology in the pattern of

news dissemination across the world. In strict professional

journalism     stance,     the   principles     guiding    news   reporting

behoove journalists to brandish news truthfully, accurately,

fairly, objectively and comprehensively. But in this global age, it

is not practicable to achieve all of these ingredients in actual

news reports. Hence there is exemption of 'fairness and

objectivity' particularly when it pertains to western media

reportage on Africa. Globalization has given the international

news media outlets soapboxes to further trumpet the age old

style in which Africa was and is still being reported to the global

audiences.



Africa is a continent that has been and is still being plagued by

both act-of-man and act-of-God woes. This is evidently seen in
9


the myriad of the social and ecological problems that every

now and then trigger off there. This is perhaps why it has

become        veritable     newsworthy       arena     for   western      media

journalists    to    perfect     systemic     unhealthy      journalism     that

portrays      Africa   as    perpetually     ugly,    bad    and    no    good.

Undoubtedly, western journalists would suddenly swoop down

on Africa whenever any of the stereotypes of disease, famine,

war, death, corruption scams, dictatorship antics, or others

that the continent was and is globally known for occur.



At this juncture, Occidental reporters’ interests are rekindled

in the continent and of course then they would always balloon

“the     negative,     giving    scant     regard    to   areas    of    notable

progress, development and achievement. Almost like there is a

desire to maintain an archaic and dire image of Africa. An

image which it infact helped establish in the minds of its

viewers since pre-slavery times.” (Belleh, 2006)

Salisu     Koki     (2006)       writing     on     ohmynews.com,          says

“regrettably enough, the once valued and highly regarded

Western media have slipped a bit from its renowned tradition

of fair and balanced reporting, most especially when it comes

to   reporting      issues      pertaining   to     Africa   and   Africans.”

Reiterating, Belleh (2006) adds “the western media continues
10


to have a field day at Africa's expense, doing a great

disservice to Africa undermining its history, rich culture and

tradition and overall historical contribution to world affairs”.



Western media may not entirely be at fault for the gross

discredit it makes on Africa. Perhaps the preconception their

audiences back home have of Africa is desirous of nothing

short of what they have from time immemorial become wont

to. Assenting, Sis. Margaret (2008) says: “Africa simply lives in

their imaginations because the media fathom their audiences

and do very good job telling them what they want to hear, see,

or read… No one can blame them for selecting stories and

images their people like.” So reporting about Africa by the

western media for the global audiences has remained the

same even in this global age just as it had been in yore times.

Globalization has made no iota of difference on the way Africa

is being reported in the global age.



In fact, one of the things globalization did to international news

reporting is to create more audiences in the global social

space. Consequently, there are more audiences ever than

before   who    are    exposing     themselves   to   global   media

reportage.   Now      there   has   become   wide     spread   global
11


awareness of Africa’s stereotyped epidemic, endemic or

pandemic outbreaks in world news. A glaring short term

impact effect of the foregoing is that it led to the world’s

social force into a frenzy of global compassion for the

continent. Social institutions particularly of individuals, non

governmental       organizations      including   multinational

corporations and political structures which make up the global

audiences developed empathy in coming to the rescue of

Africa whenever the international media reportage shows it is

once again struck by any of the stereotypical problems it is

known for. The global audiences see and hear, and they do

same thing often through donating money to be sent to Africa.



In the same vein, the continual surly style reporting of the

international media about Africa stretched the compassion of

the global audiences to a point of fatigue. And globalization

stepped in to globally cement the compassion fatique in the

behaviour   of   the   global   audience.    People   “became

unintentionally dispassionate to human suffering caused not by

their innate character but rather a natural tendency to get

worn out seeing one and the same thing and doing one and the

same thing without changes”. Referring to what Moeller (1999)

cites: “been there, done that …everybody is Africa’d out for
12


the moment…..that the problem has returned might seem a

slap in the face of philanthropy”. Compassion fatigue is thus a

consequence of the over flogging of the Africa’s many woes

in global news media of international news mongers. And

globalization has helped to inadvertently make it global.



Conclusion


Bearing in mind the difference globalization has made in terms

of reporting of Africa, Scholte’s and Bisley’s definitions of

globalization might help in suggesting some inferences. From

Scholte’s standpoint, a glaring impact of globalization is that it

increased     the     spread   of   Occidental    journalists   to   Africa

(tranplanetary) as well as dissemination of news from Africa to

many farther continents across the world (supraterritorial).



Bisley   is   right   when     he   said   that   the   consequence      of

globalization is tantamount to better way of fathoming the term

itself. The rate in the flow of journalistic media reporting of

Africa across the world changes social life practices. As a

result, social behaviours are influenced. The compassion

fatique situation is a veritable example. To            large extent, the

continual globalizing of empathic media coverage from Africa
13


by international news mongers to the world audience gave

open way to compassion fatique.




(Word count: 2,000)




References

Belleh, Raymond Tarek (2006) The Western Media and Its
Exploitation
     of Africa www.africanevents.com

Bisley, Nick (2007) Rethinking Globalization, New York: Palgrave.

Koki, Salisu Ahmed (2006) Western Media and Africa:
Balanced
      Reporting? www.english/ohmynews.com

Moeller, Susan D. (1999) Compassion Fatigue. How the Media Sell
     Disease, Famine, War and Death, New York: Routledge.

Scholte, Jan Aart (2005) “Defining globalization”, in Scholte,
   Globalization, (2005) 2 Ed., New York: Palgrave.

Sis. Margaret (2008) Poverty in Africa: The solution
      http://cozay1.blogspot.com

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REPORTING AFRICA IN THE GLOBAL AGE: THE DIFFERENCE GLOBALISATION MAKES

  • 1. 1 REPORTING AFRICA IN THE GLOBAL AGE: THE DIFFERENCE GLOBALISATION MAKES An Essay Exam on Fall 2008 Course: REPORTING GLOBAL CHANGE By AUSTEN UCHE UWOSOMAH Instructor: Hans-Henrik Holm, Professor of World Politics, Danish Sch. of Journalism / Aarhus University
  • 2. 2 Introduction Countries the world over are now reaching crescendo in interrelations due to universal pruning of restrictions on flow of all facets of human activities across territorial borders of earth for maximal international relations. This bloom in international relations further paves way for a better term to describe the radical evolvement of international movement of all the facets of human activities from multi trans-border regions to a trans- global throttle. It is perhaps because of this that the term ‘globalization’ was hatched to describe the phenomena. However, for the purpose of this essay, ‘globalization’ will be viewed from positions made by two scholars videlicet: Jan Aart Scholte and Nick Bisley with recourse to their individual definitions of globalisation; their definitions’ differences and similarities; how their definitions are useful to international reporting and the difference that globalization makes in terms of reporting of Africa. Scholte’s Definition Scholte (2005:49) likens globalization to ‘globality’. He describes it as a centripetal constriction of the social space
  • 3. 3 and time between earthly people due to “the spread of tranplanetary- and in recent times and also more particularly supraterritorial connections between people” In his explanation, ‘tranplanetary’ “refers to social links between people located at points anywhere on earth.” That is the ‘transworld’ social contact that “…is manifested across multiple areas of social life…” all of which can go any where but perhaps not everywhere due to marks on some territorial limitations. Also, he describes supraterritoriality as “social connections that substantially transcend territorial geography”. Like when human social activities further transcend territorial limitations to become transworld occurrence making them “transworld simultaneity and instantaneity”. Bisley’s Definition Bisley (2007:30) hinges his definition of globalization on the vast array of the interconnected changes it has caused in the spheres of human life. Bisley did not suffice a concrete definition. Rather, he explains that globalization is “a set of related social, political and economic consequences of a series of transformation in the social world, though the causal
  • 4. 4 character of relationships is uneven and often very unclear”. Bisley means that globalization is a manifest consequence due to mediating factors like reduced cost of mobility and increased speed and rate in the flow of social life and its activities across the world. He says changes in social life practices as a result of globalization have produced a set of consequences which has in turn influenced the social behaviour of institutions in the world order. He infers that concern should be on the effect in human behaviors that form sufficient volumes in the terrestrial flows and as well the institutions that are created to govern those behaviors. Definitions’ Similarities Their definitions’ meeting point is rooted in the commonality they both have with regards to planetary social movements and connections. Both definitions recognize the importance of human activities mobility and social space as platforms for globalization. And posit the state, multinational agencies and individuals as important actors. Also, both definitions recognize the supreme importance of the state as powerful dominant actor.
  • 5. 5 Definitions’ Differences Differences in the duo definitions can be viewed from the standpoint of Scholte’s underpinning of globalization on the tranplanetary and supraterritorial connections between peoples of the world; the compression of social space and time due to massive improvement on technologies that have aided social life mobility and communication. (Scholte, 2005:49) Conversely, Bisley makes none of these underscores. He infers that while social space and time compression maters, but it does not form the main crux. Rather, concern should be on the way changes to patterns of economic and other social practices due to globalization, have aggregate flow on consequences for the social institutions that govern human life (Bisley, 2007:30). Definitions’ Usefulness to International Reporting from Africa International reporting practice means giving information and some kind of education and entertainment to the global audience. In addition to that, it also involves steering and anchoring opinion, keeping surveillance and as well setting
  • 6. 6 agenda for global debate. Before globalization became catapulted to its present day frenzy, international news reporting, did not use the modern time sublunary (cyber space) media. It was limited to internationally circulated news journals and celestial transnational satellite radio and cable TV signals. International news reporting has now entered into the era of transplanetary and supraterritorial transverse within earth’s social space. The outcome of this development to international reporting of news across the world, is “…the rapid acceleration of communication that shows little regard for geographic constraints” (Harvey, 1989; Robertson, 1992). Both Scholte’s and Bisley’s concepts of globalization are useful to international reporting particularly from a far-reaching continent as Africa. According to Scholte (2005:62) “the global mass media spread messages simultaneously to transworld audiences”. Scholte by this is noting the shrink in social space. Africa is brought closer to the rest of the world via supraterritorial dissemination of news about the continent by international news organs to the global audiences. Thus news from Africa has become ubiquitous in the world. ‘Simultaneity’, ‘instantaneity’, ‘ubiquity’, are evidence of social space and time compression. However, this is not
  • 7. 7 possible if social forces were not involved. Thus the institutions of people who are involved in the dissemination of news across the world; the other social structures that govern these institutions practice; and the people who make up the global audiences as well the social practices that ignite the events that are covered and reported as news from the continent have dominant influence and consequences on the way news from Africa is reported in the global age. Other imperatives are in terms of the level of understanding the world audience have about Africa. The editorial policy framework of international media structures and as well, perhaps most importantly, domestic journalistic gambits which manifest through localization of international news. Bisley recounts this when he reiterated Anthony Giddens’ submission of globalization as “the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa” (Giddens, 1996:64). Thus foreign news becomes influenced by the way the international media structures localize what they see and how they want to see it.
  • 8. 8 The Difference that Globalization Makes in Reporting of Africa A visible impact of globalization is that political ideas, economic events and communication spread much more than before. As corollary, globalization with recourse to international reporting of news across the world has made tremendous difference to the practice particularly in the way news spread in terms of distance and time. The international mass media outlets have had need to recreate structural methodology in the pattern of news dissemination across the world. In strict professional journalism stance, the principles guiding news reporting behoove journalists to brandish news truthfully, accurately, fairly, objectively and comprehensively. But in this global age, it is not practicable to achieve all of these ingredients in actual news reports. Hence there is exemption of 'fairness and objectivity' particularly when it pertains to western media reportage on Africa. Globalization has given the international news media outlets soapboxes to further trumpet the age old style in which Africa was and is still being reported to the global audiences. Africa is a continent that has been and is still being plagued by both act-of-man and act-of-God woes. This is evidently seen in
  • 9. 9 the myriad of the social and ecological problems that every now and then trigger off there. This is perhaps why it has become veritable newsworthy arena for western media journalists to perfect systemic unhealthy journalism that portrays Africa as perpetually ugly, bad and no good. Undoubtedly, western journalists would suddenly swoop down on Africa whenever any of the stereotypes of disease, famine, war, death, corruption scams, dictatorship antics, or others that the continent was and is globally known for occur. At this juncture, Occidental reporters’ interests are rekindled in the continent and of course then they would always balloon “the negative, giving scant regard to areas of notable progress, development and achievement. Almost like there is a desire to maintain an archaic and dire image of Africa. An image which it infact helped establish in the minds of its viewers since pre-slavery times.” (Belleh, 2006) Salisu Koki (2006) writing on ohmynews.com, says “regrettably enough, the once valued and highly regarded Western media have slipped a bit from its renowned tradition of fair and balanced reporting, most especially when it comes to reporting issues pertaining to Africa and Africans.” Reiterating, Belleh (2006) adds “the western media continues
  • 10. 10 to have a field day at Africa's expense, doing a great disservice to Africa undermining its history, rich culture and tradition and overall historical contribution to world affairs”. Western media may not entirely be at fault for the gross discredit it makes on Africa. Perhaps the preconception their audiences back home have of Africa is desirous of nothing short of what they have from time immemorial become wont to. Assenting, Sis. Margaret (2008) says: “Africa simply lives in their imaginations because the media fathom their audiences and do very good job telling them what they want to hear, see, or read… No one can blame them for selecting stories and images their people like.” So reporting about Africa by the western media for the global audiences has remained the same even in this global age just as it had been in yore times. Globalization has made no iota of difference on the way Africa is being reported in the global age. In fact, one of the things globalization did to international news reporting is to create more audiences in the global social space. Consequently, there are more audiences ever than before who are exposing themselves to global media reportage. Now there has become wide spread global
  • 11. 11 awareness of Africa’s stereotyped epidemic, endemic or pandemic outbreaks in world news. A glaring short term impact effect of the foregoing is that it led to the world’s social force into a frenzy of global compassion for the continent. Social institutions particularly of individuals, non governmental organizations including multinational corporations and political structures which make up the global audiences developed empathy in coming to the rescue of Africa whenever the international media reportage shows it is once again struck by any of the stereotypical problems it is known for. The global audiences see and hear, and they do same thing often through donating money to be sent to Africa. In the same vein, the continual surly style reporting of the international media about Africa stretched the compassion of the global audiences to a point of fatigue. And globalization stepped in to globally cement the compassion fatique in the behaviour of the global audience. People “became unintentionally dispassionate to human suffering caused not by their innate character but rather a natural tendency to get worn out seeing one and the same thing and doing one and the same thing without changes”. Referring to what Moeller (1999) cites: “been there, done that …everybody is Africa’d out for
  • 12. 12 the moment…..that the problem has returned might seem a slap in the face of philanthropy”. Compassion fatigue is thus a consequence of the over flogging of the Africa’s many woes in global news media of international news mongers. And globalization has helped to inadvertently make it global. Conclusion Bearing in mind the difference globalization has made in terms of reporting of Africa, Scholte’s and Bisley’s definitions of globalization might help in suggesting some inferences. From Scholte’s standpoint, a glaring impact of globalization is that it increased the spread of Occidental journalists to Africa (tranplanetary) as well as dissemination of news from Africa to many farther continents across the world (supraterritorial). Bisley is right when he said that the consequence of globalization is tantamount to better way of fathoming the term itself. The rate in the flow of journalistic media reporting of Africa across the world changes social life practices. As a result, social behaviours are influenced. The compassion fatique situation is a veritable example. To large extent, the continual globalizing of empathic media coverage from Africa
  • 13. 13 by international news mongers to the world audience gave open way to compassion fatique. (Word count: 2,000) References Belleh, Raymond Tarek (2006) The Western Media and Its Exploitation of Africa www.africanevents.com Bisley, Nick (2007) Rethinking Globalization, New York: Palgrave. Koki, Salisu Ahmed (2006) Western Media and Africa: Balanced Reporting? www.english/ohmynews.com Moeller, Susan D. (1999) Compassion Fatigue. How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death, New York: Routledge. Scholte, Jan Aart (2005) “Defining globalization”, in Scholte, Globalization, (2005) 2 Ed., New York: Palgrave. Sis. Margaret (2008) Poverty in Africa: The solution http://cozay1.blogspot.com