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News from Africa read with keen interest, says foreign media

There is currently an unprecedented interest in news from Africa, according to Barry Moody, Africa editor for Reuters.

“Africa is no longer a distant curiosity, now it's a place of expanding potential,” the editor told local and international media and government communicators at the International Media Forum South Africa (IMFSA) last week.

The two-day forum was held to discuss South Africa and Africa's media coverage abroad.

He said investors were looking for somewhere to put their money and therefore news, both good and bad, was read with keen interest.

Reuters covers stories related to investment opportunities such as Nigeria's oil, Kenya's coffee market, Malawi's tea farms and Mauritius' fishing industry.

Africa is also a fascinating place to work because of its volatility, he said. Kenya is a good example of this following the post-election violence.

What's of interest?

Chip Cummins, Africa Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal said it was his responsibility to find out what news from Africa the two million print and one million online subscribers were interested in.

“There is an insatiable appetite for African stories. Africa is fascinating with many political moving parts. A lot of our readers are looking for what stocks they can invest in,” he said.

Africa was seen as the new exploration frontier, he said, where one could find investment opportunities and the next “big deal”.

The journal did not have a sub Saharan Africa-based reporter until late last year when a correspondent was sent to Nigeria.

Cummins said he would like to put another correspondent in Johannesburg soon.

Keen eye on 2010 World Cup

Africa Editor for BBC News, Joseph Warungu said the rest of the world was watching South Africa with a keen eye due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “It will be a big story and we will be putting a lot of resources into covering it,” he said.

The BBC has 250 reporters and 70 bureaus in Africa. “There is nothing that can replace an eye witness account of an event,” he said, adding that the BBC stood by the principles of evidence and transparency.

Ian MacDonald, Editor of South Africa The Good News said there were handful of correspondents reporting on a complex continent which could result in superficial stories and reporters not covering Africa the best they could.

A positive obligation

He said South African journalists had a social obligation to report on positive stories. “It can be a harrowing experience to read through a newspaper. There are vast stories that are positive that can be covered,” he said.

Editor for Reuters Africa website, John Chiahemen said they had tried to break new ground when they launched the Africa website because of the growing demand for news from Africa.

He said visitors to the site were numbered at over two million per day.

Interest in investment news

Reuters readers, who are mostly the top 10% of influential people in the world, had been particularly interested in the sites investing pages.

At the click of a button, visitors to the site can find information on mining, oil, agriculture as well as get updates on key African markets and stock listings.

He said they had recently introduced blogging on all Reuters sites. “It has seen massive success with numerous comments flooding in,” said Chiahemen.

Also attending the IMFSA, was Kim Norgaard Africa Bureau Chief for CNN, who said there was no better feeling than telling successful stories from Africa and changing peoples perceptions.

“However, we have to report on the big negative stories too, we can't ignore them. Our audience expects that of us.”

Norgaard said it was important to not squeeze coverage of Africa into one small programme.

“We tackle major topics and themes from all over the world to show people how similar we all are.”

Middle east news station Aljazeera launched its African news bureau 18 months ago.

Aljazeera Africa Editor Andrew Simmons said more news organisations should investing in Africa to ensure more stories were covered, but sadly they were instead cutting back on budgets.

Article published courtesy of BuaNews


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