As part of our news analysis slot on Africanews, we will be updating a media watch page that deals with major issues of media ongoings across the continent.
It will cut across happenings in mainstream and across social media with also a special eye for fake news.
Media freedoms in Somalia
US embassy calls out fake news over Nigeria pastor’s visa
Nigeria army arrests journalist, Burundi jails journalists
Ethiopia ombudsman decries info blackout
AP racist photo, BBC’s Kobe – LeBron mix-up
Internet outage in Togo
Beninese radio station fires all employees after suspension
Burundi arrest journalist over corruption report
Ghana remembers slain anti-corruption investigator
Cameraman assaulted in Nigeria
Ethiopian journalists associational dreams
Journalists detained in Uganda and Malawi
Western Ethiopia internet cut, Sudan bans pro-Bashir press
Busted! How fake news crowned Ugandan politician world’s ‘most arrested’
Media freedoms in Somalia
Human rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday that journalists in Somalia are “under siege”, facing bombings, beatings, attacks and arrests.
The East African nation has long been seen as one of the riskiest places to work as a journalist, with the twin threats of reporting on conflict and draconian restrictions imposed by the authorities.
But now the situation is getting even worse, Amnesty said, in a report titled “We live in perpetual fear”, detailing what it called a “dramatic deterioration” in press freedom.
“A surge in violent attacks, threats, harassment and intimidation of media workers is entrenching Somalia as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist,” Amnesty said, calling on the government to take action.
Journalists face threats on all fronts, from attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab fighters, to the internationally backed authorities.
However, Somalia’s government rejected the report, calling it a “fabrication” and “ludicrous allegations”, and accusing journalists who had fled the country of making up stories to secure asylum abroad.
“We find no concrete evidence worthy of accusing the Federal Government of Somalia of abuses against journalists,” the Ministry of Information said in a statement.
At least eight journalists have been killed since 2017, and at least eight more fled the country fearing for their lives, the report said.
“From barely surviving explosive-wired cars, being shot, beaten up and arbitrarily arrested, journalists are working in horrifying conditions,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s head for eastern and southern Africa.
“This crackdown on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom is happening with impunity. The authorities hardly investigate or prosecute perpetrators of attacks on journalists,” Muchena said.
Reporters Without Borders ranks Somalia 164th out of 180 countries on its global list of press freedom, with more than 43 journalists killed over the past decade.
US embassy busts visa refusal fake news
The United States embassy in Nigeria on Friday called out a spreading report that it had denied visa to one of Nigeria’s most followed pastors.
Multiple portals said David Oyedepo had been denied visa, a situation that led to a fracas at the embassy. The report according to the embassy was fake.
David Oyedepo is the founder and presiding Bishop of the megachurch Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria, and Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners’ Chapel International.
Aside his work as a member of the clergy, he is author and businessman. As at 2011, Forbes said his net worth was at $150 million.
#FalseNews Alert! Be advised, the reports making the rounds about a visa being denied to Nigerian Bishop Oyedepo are false.
If you have seen this manufactured item in the media, help defeat this #misinformation by communicating to everyone that it is completely false. pic.twitter.com/H1pDwhf9XW— U.S. Mission Nigeria (@USEmbassyAbuja) January 31, 2020
Nigeria army arrests journalist, Burundi jails quartet
A tough day for journalists on January 30 as Burundi jailed four journalists over charges of undermining state security. After a three-month trial the privately owned Iwacu outlet said its journalists had been jailed two-and-half years each.
A lawyer representing them said, they will appeal the decision. They have 30 days to launch the appeal. The move has been slammed by press rights groups as a dark day for journalism in the country.
In Nigeria, Amnesty’s local branch reported that soldiers had arrested a journalist working with the Daily Trust newspaper in Borno State capital Maiduguri.
“This shocking pattern of harassing journalists is unacceptable. Nigeria has an obligation to respect & protect the right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty Nigeria added.
The Daily Trust said the arrest was connected to a story on military operations in the North East of the country; it said they had since been released. It is not the first time the army is rounding up journalists over stories of this kind.
Amnesty International condemns arrest of journalist Olatunji Omirin of daily_trust by HQNigerianArmy today in Maiduguri. This shocking pattern of harassing journalists is unacceptable. Nigeria has an obligation to respect & protect the right to freedom of expression.— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) January 30, 2020
Ethiopia ombudsman decries info blackout
Ethiopian Institute of Ombudsman, a state-mandated body, says government offices are refusing to furnish journalists with information and by that restricting access to information.
Its latest report cited among others, the Tigray regional government’s Communication Office, the Dembi Dollo University and Addis Ababa Housing Agency as main culprits.
The case of the university is believed to be connected with a student abduction crisis that has birthed protests in parts of the country demanding the Amhara region and federal governments to come clean on what has become known as #BringBackOurStudents campaign.
How racist AP photo ‘helped’ Ugandan activist, BBC’s footage blip
A young Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate used Twitter to call out American news outlet AP after she was deliberately cropped out of a photo ostensibly being the only person of colour.
She was part of activists during last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She received lots of solidarity from the platform. The AP issued an official apology over the incident. Nakate’s Twitter account has since been verified.
Solidarity for Ugandan climate activist over racist AP photo crop https://t.co/fIzjPi8W5h— africanews (@africanews) January 25, 2020
Meanwhile, the BBC was caught in a tight corner during coverage of the death of American basketball star, Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with others in a helicopter mishap on Saturday, January 25.
The BBC rolled footage of LeBron James whiles reporting Bryant’s death. Social media as usual reacted furiously following which a rectification was effected and an apology issued for what BBC said was a “human error” that fell below their “usual standards.”
Africans have been divided on the subject of reactions to Kobe’s death, whiles the larger majority sent condolence messages and shared positive Bryant content, others said Africans should focus on sympathizing when Africans are adversely affected.
⚡️ “African tributes to death of NBA star Kobe Bryant” ????#KobeBraynt https://t.co/jigUHWZZ3x— africanews (@africanews) January 27, 2020
Cannot believe the BBC- reporting on Kobe Bryant’s death but showing video footage of LeBron James.
If you know you know. pic.twitter.com/oZNmqA1rqF— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) January 26, 2020
Togo internet outage after technical fault
Togolese were without internet from Wednesday after connectivity dropped across the West African country, internet rights group, NetBlocks reported.
Most people reacting to the development on Twitter drew political meanings into the outage alleging that the government was “testing the waters” ahead of presidential polls in February.
But another internet rights group, Paradigm Initiative, quoted the state-run Togo Telcom as saying the issue was a technical one which arose from a fault with submarine cables in Spain and Portugal.
⚡️ “Internet outage in Togo has Twitter buzzing despite official reasons”
????️? – Outage started January 22 – Situation was confirmed by netblocks – Net rights body, ParadigmHQ reports operator says its a technical issue – Twitter ‘reads’ politicshttps://t.co/bL4ZQh8Pqh— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) January 23, 2020
Radio station fires all employees after suspension
Beninese private radio station Soleil FM, owned by politician and business mogul Sebastian Adjavon, has fired all 41 employees in the wake of a government suspension of their operations.
“We are in cessation of activities since the radio is suspended until further notice by the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication, the HAAC,” Virgile Ahouansè, a journalist and leader of the staff union told AFP. He said the dismissal letter was delivered on Tuesday.
He deplored the suspension stressing that: “the body invested by the constitution to protect press freedom has come to such a radical solution that does not take into account the right to information of Beninese.”
In mid-December, the radio, one of the few in opposition in Benin, received a letter from the president of the HAAC ordering “suspend programs until further notice”. Saturnin Djossou, its chief editor confirmed that the station had unsuccessfully applied for a renewal of their license prior to the suspension.
Burundi journalist arrested over corruption report
A Burundian journalist has been arrested after filing a report on misuse of public funds in the country.
Blaise Pascal Kararumiye who works with R