Journalism, especially across our beautiful continent, Africa, can sometimes be harrowing. This is especially true if you are an investigative journalist covering politics and business. It is not strange to hear a journalist talk about being harassed or threatened for an article they published or something they broadcast. Some have even been killed.
You throw into the mix the disrupted business models that are resulting in other media businesses such as print on their last kicks, you really have to love journalism to do it, especially investigative journalism.
This is why it has been interesting to observe as various initiatives are being announced to monitor and protect against journalists being harmed across Africa.
First, it was the African Union earlier this year announcing a platform to monitor attacks against journalists and facilitate any help they might need. A commendable move although one has to question whether all member states would support such a platform given how some of the governments are themselves guilty of harassing and attacking journalists.
More recently, Facebook has announced new security features on its social media platform to give journalists across Africa (and other parts of the world) “stronger security features that further protect their Facebook and Instagram accounts against harassment and potential hacking threats." Journalists who opt-in for these new security features on Facebook and register, according to Facebook, may also be eligible to receive:
- Blue Badge Verification (Facebook profiles only).
- Access to CrowdTangle Search for greater insights into public content across social media.
- Updates on Special Features so that they can be notified about new features for journalists as they are being released.
All this is commendable.
However, am I being weird for finding it odd that the same social media platform that amplifies fake news that has in some cases led to the death of journalists and other people, the same platform that has effectively killed some media business models, is the same platform that is now offering solutions to save journalism and journalists?
Today's Top Stories
🔒 In a commendable yet interesting and possibly too-little-too-late effort, Facebook has launched new security features on their social media platform to “protect journalists.” According to Facebook, registered journalists will get "stronger security features that further protect their Facebook and Instagram accounts against harassment and potential hacking threats." The features were available in other parts of the world and it is now available for journalists based in several countries across Africa. How far they will go to actually protecting journalists remains to be seen given Facebook’s love-hate relationship with media businesses. Link
🛡️ Facebook’s announcement comes a few weeks after the African Union announced the launch of the first digital online platform aimed at improving the protection of journalists across Africa. According to the African Union, The "Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa" will address threats and violence against journalists and foster early warning mechanisms. This is curious considering how some African governments, who are also members of the African Union, harass and attack journalists. Whether such countries will support this initiative is the big question as they would essentially need to protect journalists against themselves. Link
📰 Still talking about journalism, in South Africa a new report has revealed that the large print media businesses are dying or effectively dead when you take into consideration how much their print sales and circulation has dropped. Audit Bureau of Circulations data for the fourth quarter of 2020 shows that circulations for daily newspapers are down by 40%, on average, over one year. Not included in this drop are the two titles that ceased publication as dailies during 2020: Die Volksblad (Bloemfontein) is now “digital-only” while the DFA (Kimberley) now only publishes on Fridays. Link
📲 Pngme is quite an interesting fintech startup that operates in Africa. They are in the news for having secured $3 million in investment (participation from Radical Ventures, Raptor Group, Lateral Capital, and EchoVC). These funds are said to be used to help the USA-based fintech startup to continue with further expansion across Africa. Pngme has developed a digital platform that collects user data through their customer partner’s existing mobile apps. The company says that the data collection is permission-based. They predict that they will several millions of user data profiles created on its platform by 2022. Link
💰 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has expressed disappointment at the news of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca which appears to provide no measurable effect on mild or moderate disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 variant (better known as the South African variant given where it was first discovered). Despite the bad news, the foundation has said that it will continue funding COVID-19 vaccine research with Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, saying that “This is deeply disappointing news. We’ve all been spoiled lately by how good the news on vaccine science has been.” Link
Facebook, the same social media platform that has amplified fake news, promoted the harassment of journalists, and killed many media businesses, is now advocating to save journalists and journalism, isn't that weird? (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)
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