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Mapping Digital Media: Nigeria

February 24, 2020

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Nigeria has a relatively high internet penetration rate, driven primarily by a rapid expansion of mobile platforms. Recent figures suggest that over a third of the population have access to the internet and there are over 50 mobile phones per 100 Nigerians. However, internet access is concentrated geographically within just 16 percent of the country, and overwhelmingly within urban areas. Access to digital broadcasting platforms is largely contained within pay-TV networks, and free-to-air digital broadcasting is still embryonic.Regarding free-to-air, there are currently no legal requirements on broadcasters to facilitate citizen access to digital platforms, nor any measures to ensure its affordability. Regulatory pressure has been applied to commercial broadcasters, but state broadcasters have been criticized for failing to take a leadership role in driving the switch-over.The report suggests that the development of the mobile sector offers the best hope for bridging regional and social divides in the medium term. But the enduring significance of these divides presents the most profound obstacle to Nigerian society reaping the benefits of digital media in terms of increased diversity, openness, and access.

7 Feasible Ways to Expand Civic Space in West Africa in 2020

January 28, 2020

The effective implementation of WACSI's interventions is dependent on civil society's contributions and feedback on the Institute's work in promoting an open, safe and prosperous West Africa. WACSI's interventions are guided and inspired by the critical voices from key stakeholders and engagement by different communities and groups across West Africa. At WACSI, we are conscious that civic space affects everything civil society does and everything civil society does affects civic space.  A safe, open, free and enabling space for all to form and voice opinions, debate, be heard and peacefully protest, is also an essential prerequisite for achieving the ECOWAS Vision 2020. Civic freedoms including the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, safe environments and effective participation are therefore essential. This Op-Ed critically assesses the civic space environment in 2019, predictions for 2020 and issues that need more introspection and collective action.

Enhancing Digital Security Awareness for CSOs in Africa

October 23, 2019

Over the last two decades, technology tools available for civil society actors in Africa have tremendously evolved.  Journalists and activists relied mostly on print media to call out dictators and authoritarian regimes. To avoid being incarcerated, they hid their identities or never stayed in one location. Today, they use digital technologies to mask their identities and digital footprints, and communicate in real-time with informants and reporters using technologically advanced tools . To keep pace with the world and be effective in the work that they do, such media and civil society actors have had to embrace new and emerging technologies to facilitate their work. 

Media Reporting on Substance Use: Magnifying or Reducing the Harm?

September 9, 2018

Drug use in general is a topic that rarely features in Nigeria media outlets. The focus has mostly been on arrests and seizures of drugs by law enforcement agencies to show how well the government is doing in terms of fighting the "war on drugs". Aside specific global campaigns such as the Support Don't Punish Global Day of Action (26 June) , very few programmes and documentaries report and discuss drug use from a public health perspective. Even though the non-medical use of codeine has been occurring for the past decades in the country, it has rarely been discussed as much as now. The coverage helped to reveal how codeine-based products are smuggled out of pharmaceutical companies.

Making Waves: Media's Potential for Girls in the Global South

November 3, 2014

There are around 600 million adolescent girls living in developing countries. Doubly marginalised because oftheir gender and age, many live a bleak existence -- excluded from access to basic public services, unable to shape the decisions that affect their lives and vulnerable to violence at home and on the street. Their voices often go unheard.Slowly, this is beginning to change. Over the past two decades girls have become a growing priority for the international development community. Investing in their health education and employment prospects is nowwidely considered to have an important ripple effect on other development outcomes such as economic growth and social equality. As a result, development assistance programmes that support girls' empowerment are now seen by many as not just the "right" thing to do, but a necessity Less well understood is where media fits into this equation The interplay between media and gender norms has long been recognised and a substantial literature explores how media affects girls in the Global North But against a backdrop of rapidly changing media landscapes -- characterised by increasing competition for audiences sensationalism and expanding access to new technologies -- the role that media plays in girls' lives in the Global South demands further examination.Drawing on expert interviews as well as insights from the media and development literature, this policy briefing seeks to fill this gap. It argues that media -- whether traditional or online -- matters a great deal in the lives of girls in the developing world. It matters because it has the ability to be harmful to girls' interests and self-esteem, and it matters because it can also be so effective in playing a positive role in girls' lives. Specifically, media can influence girls' aspirations and behaviours around their health and livelihoods open the door to greater participation in society and ensure that girls' issues move higher up the public agenda. If challenges around media access and control and the extent to which media organisations value girls as part of their audience, are addressed head on, media can play a vital role in helping to advance the wellbeing of adolescent girls in regions of the world where their interests have traditionally been most neglected.

Press Freedom by the Numbers

May 1, 2014

Use our interactive data tool to compare the press freedoms of regions and countries over time.

Freedom on the Net 2013

October 3, 2013

Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

Media Access and Policy

Amplifying Voices: Information and Expression

September 1, 2013

In a variety of ways, information and expression remain constrained despite the expansion of the information highway. In some cases, there is heavy-handed silencing by governments through repressive laws and actions; in others, the media self-censors itself on certain sensitive or volatile issues. Persons with sensory disabilities have to function in a world with a dearth of sign language, Braille, and interpretation services to accommodate them to function fully in society.  This issue of Amplifying Voices, a publication of the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, discusses the provision of information through accessible formats so that people can engage and make informed judgments on issues that have a bearing on their lives. 

Mapping Digital Media: Egypt

August 1, 2013

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Egypt has a young population, high rates of unemployment and inflation, and a long history of state control over the media. In this mix, the rise of digital media has been widely considered an engine of radical social and political change, not least in respect of the popular uprisings that led to the January 25 revolution in 2011.This report suggests that new technologies of communication have had an enabling rather than a determining effect. They have acted as a catalyst to facilitate and accelerate social change already happening on the ground for years. Crucially, these technologies gave unprecedented opportunities for lateral communication and self-expression outside the regime's control.Moreover, the half a million Egyptians who clicked "I am attending the revolution" on Facebook gave each other the feeling that "I am not alone. If I go out on the streets on January 25, I am not going to be with 200 people; I am going to be with thousands, or as it happened, with millions."This report offers a detailed analysis of digitization that chronicles both what has and has not changed in Egypt against a backdrop of unprecedented political and social instability, and the ongoing struggle for democracy.

Mapping Digital Media: Kenya

March 1, 2013

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.The new constitution of Kenya, promulgated in August 2010, is considered a major positive development in ensuring the free flow of information. It provides for freedom of media as a right and fundamental freedom. Section 34 guarantees the independence of electronic, print, and all other types of media. The government has also pledged to enhance Kenya's technological infrastructure by investing in the roll-out of fiber optic cable throughout the country and working on "digital villages" to enable people in remote parts of the country to access broadband internet. Stiff competition in the mobile phone market has also lowered access costs and there is a significant increase in news diversity as a direct result of the convergence of internet, television, and radio on mobile platforms.In online journalism, the virtues associated with ethics—accuracy, honesty, truth, impartiality, fairness, balance, respect for autonomy of ordinary people—are barely respected, largely because there is no effective way of policing this, and there are no legal penalties. Concentration of ownership has increased in the last five years and transparency in ownership of media has improved only slightly over the past five years. The government controls media licensing—a process that is shrouded in secrecy, so that it is difficult to establish who owns which media house.The overall framework of policy and law is not yet adequate for digitized media in Kenya. The national ICT policy of 2006 committed the government to support and encourage pluralism and diversity. While this led to a proliferation of channels, it did not do much for content diversity due to the level of concentration of media. A lack of resources to build the digital infrastructure, consumer ignorance of what the switch means and whether the public can afford the end-user devices are some of the challenges faced in Kenya's digital switchover

Mapping Digital Media: News and New Media in Central Africa - Challenges and Opportunities

December 1, 2012

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda and Burundi are among the continent's smallest states. More than just neighbors, these three countries are locked together by overlapping histories and by extreme political and economic challenges. They all score very low on the United Nations' human development index, with DRC and Burundi among the half-dozen poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. They are all recovering uncertainly from conflicts that involved violence on an immense scale, devastating communities and destroying infrastructure. Their populations are overwhelmingly rural and young. In terms of media, radio is by far the most popular source of news. Levels of state capture are high, and media quality is generally poor. Professional journalists face daunting obstacles. The threadbare markets can hardly sustain independent outlets. Amid continuing communal and political tensions, the legacy of "hate media" is insidious, and upholding journalism ethics is not easy when salaries are low. Ownership is non-transparent. Telecoms overheads are exorbitantly high. In these conditions, new and digital media -- which flourish on consumers' disposable income, strategic investment, and vibrant markets -- have made a very slow start. Crucially, connectivity remains low. But change is afoot, led by the growth of mobile internet access. In this report, Marie-Soleil Frère surveys the news landscapes of DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda. Marshaling an impressive range of data, she examines patterns of production and consumption, the often grim realities of law and regulation, the embryonic state of media policy, the role of donors, and the positive impact of online platforms. Most media outlets now have an online presence. SMS has become a basic tool for reporters. Interactivity gives voice to increasing numbers of listeners. The ease of digital archiving makes it possible to create a collective media "memory" for the first time. Chinese businesses are winning tenders for infrastructure projects. Above all, the unstoppable flow of digitized information enables ever more people to learn about current events and available services. "The average news consumer in Central Africa will soon leap to new opportunities," Frère predicts, "without having to pass through the intermediate stages of a personal computer and a fixed telephone line." The report ends with a set of practical recommendations relating to infrastructure, strategies to reduce access costs for journalists and the public, education and professionalization, donor activity, governance, regulation, and media management.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media: South Africa

March 22, 2012

Analyzes trends in South Africa's media consumption, including the impact of digital media on the state-owned broadcaster, media preferences, quality of journalism, activism, and social, cultural, and political diversity, technology, and business models.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

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