Media in Africa and the
‘Responsibility to Protect’ the
Assoc. Prof. Nassanga Goretti Linda
Journalism & Communication Dept.
Makerere University, Kampala.
• Sustainable equitable development
• Africa’s vulnerability and issue of global
• Responsibility to Protect
• CC in Western and Africa’s media
• Capacity Gaps in reporting CC in Africa
• Initiatives for improved CC coverage
From Development to ‘sustainable
equitable development’
efficiency in resource allocation
equity in the present and future
resilience of ecological & social systems
adaptive capacity - assets one can access
(financial, natural resource, human and
social capital)
Africa’s Vulnerability to CC
• Low capacity for adaptation to CC - agrobased economies so feel impact of CC
• Effects: increased food insecurity, spread
of diseases like malaria, soil erosion, land
degradation, floods, droughts, etc.
• Aggravated poverty, migrations,
heightened competition over resources,
with high potential for regional insecurity
Global injustice
Global Humanitarian Forum Report (2009)
• DCs: 99% global deaths due to CC
• Most affected but contribute < 1% of global carbon
• Africa: 30/40 lowest per capita carbon dioxide emitters
• 15/20 countries most vulnerable to CC
• These collectively emitted < 0.7% of total carbon
Global injustice cont’d
dependence on primary production
heavy reliance on rain fed agriculture
weak institutional capacity
limited infrastructure & capacity for
disaster management
• limited financial resources
Feminization of poverty
• CC impacts poor people most – few/no
• More poverty in rural than urban areas
• More poor women than men
• Women affected more by CC – most
engaged in subsistence farming
‘Responsibility to protect’
• Premised on the commons or common
• Environment essential to satisfying needs
of present and future generations
• Shared environment
‘Responsibility to protect’ cont’d
• Need for environmental protection if all
benefit from it.
• Marshall McLuhan: there are no
passengers on spaceship Earth, but all are
• Each one has a responsibility to protect
the environment, including the media
Earth/Ship is sinking
Agenda-setting & framing
theories in CC Communication
• News selection + prioritization
• based on news values, acquired in training
and enhanced through practice
• Media training important factor in CC
Agenda-setting & framing theories in
CC Communication cont’d
• Media as the principal source of information and
opinions about science & CC
• Media provide key public arenas in which social
problems are framed
• Journalists use words & frames to give greater
weight to certain elements over others
• Audiences rely on frames to make sense of and
discuss an issue.
Climate change discourse in
western media
• Studies done on CC and the media show
no distinct uniform agenda
• Reflected in various ways the public
interprets and perceives CC
• Assumption that the > in coverage would
promote wider public understanding of CC
Climate change discourse in
western media cont’d
• Americans: study on understanding of
climate change revealed politically
polarized opinions, divided along
ideological lines.
• Republicans questioned the validity of
climate science & dismissed the urgency
of the problem
• Democrats accepted climate science and
expressed concern about the issue
Climate change discourse in
western media cont’d
• Yale and George Mason Universities views on global
• 49% were not committed to do something about the
• 18% were alarmed, 33% were concerned, 19% were
cautious, 12% were disengaged, 11% were doubtful and
7% were totally dismissive of the idea.
• All categories use media to put their case
• Some: global warming is a hoax, work of ‘lunatic
scientists’, a conspiracy theory backed by the UN, etc.
Climate change discourse in
western media cont’d
• British Press: news values of conflict and
controversy, + wish for ‘balance’
• partly explained the praise of dissent in
CC reporting
• Tone: fear-generating through use of
words that establish the negative and
frightful context in which climate change is
discursively constructed (Olausson
Climate change discourse in
western media cont’d
• Stories dramatic, alarmist tone, language
of catastrophe, fear, disaster and death
• Negative alarmist portrayals can be
counter-productive – people get
indifferent, disillusioned and paralysed by
emotionally loaded doom scenarios
• Controversy on normative value of
balance in CC
• Uncertainty among the public - CC real?
Climate change discourse in
western media cont’d
• Swedish media: hegemonic status of the
national horizons in CC reporting
• Need for balance between nationalization
and globalization in CC reporting
• Advocate for training journalists beyond
local horizon = global journalism
Climate change discourse in
African media
• BBC study in 10 African countries (Nigeria,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal,
Uganda, DR Congo, South Africa, Sudan
and Tanzania).
• Research sought to find out the public
understanding of climate change in Africa.
• Key Issues: environmental justice =
Africans least responsible, most affected
and least informed about CC
Climate change discourse in
African media cont’d
• Information flow on CC largely from the rest of
the world to Africa.
• Sense that environmental degradation is a
localised issue whose responsibility lies with
Africans themselves
• measures to address CC that are devised and
debated at international fora are barely reported
in Africa
• CC is debated more on Africa’s behalf rather
than by and within Africa itself.
First Aid to Africa by ‘outsiders’
Capacity Gaps to effective CC
reporting in Africa
• Training: Evaluation of curricula of journalism
training institutions
• Uganda: showed focus more on skills-oriented
modules (77.3%), Communication support had <
a quarter (22.7%) (Nassanga 2008)
• S.Africa: training geared to meeting the needs of
the international journalism community instead
of local community
• Training institutions increased, standard of
education not correspondingly increasing.
Courses too theoretical, not matching needs of
the local environment (Deuze, 2004)
Capacity Gaps to effective CC
reporting in Africa cont’d
• Claim: environment does not sell, is boring
and not of interest to audience.
• Inability of journalists to mainstream
environment + CC in their news stories.
• Lack of knowledge on institutional and
governance frameworks (e.g. resource
distribution, conflicts, democratic
governance, human rights, etc.
Capacity Gaps to effective CC
reporting in Africa cont’d
• Work environment: delays in availing
information to journalists.
• High competition, deadlines, news
• Media liberalisation, media pluralism,
increased selectivity, some people don’t
listen to key global concerns like CC
preferring entertainment
Capacity Gaps to effective CC
reporting in Africa cont’d
• Low priority of CC stories by editors = less
• Language (foreign) - a ‘central challenge’
in CC communication
• Lack of sustainability of environment
networks for journalists
Initiatives towards improved climate
change coverage
• High expectations from journalists in
reporting on CC and ‘sustainable
development, but not adequately
• Need to review the training curricula and
give adequate attention to communication
support modules
Initiatives towards improved climate
change coverage cont’d
• More support to journalists and training
institutions to improve their capacity in CC
reporting + sustainable development.
• Analytical reporting to move from eventsoriented to process-oriented journalism.
• Journalists, editors & owners to give
climate change issues due attention
• More awareness, more public engagement
in the climate change discourse.
Initiatives towards improved climate
change coverage cont’d
• Banda (UNESCO 2010): media in Africa
have a responsibility to communicate
Africa’s climate change concerns.
• Africans need to become active
participants in the global climate change
• Need to invest more in media
development in Africa