Given that most of them don’t have the budget to send local teams to other African countries, 35% of stories by African publications come from agencies outside of the continent, with Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the BBC as the main contributors.

Breaking news, politics, protests, and disasters

While news dominates media all over the world, it is even more the case in Africa, accounting for 81% of stories. The more news content is produced, the fewer in-depth features are written, depriving readers of context and analysis.

Topics that dominate headlines also tend to be skewed towards conflicts, disputes, and other equally weighty issues, with much less space dedicated to lighter topics or those with a positive angle.

Most stories cover very few countries

African headlines are dominated by lots of stories from a few countries, and almost none from others. For examples, Seychelles had a peaceful election in 2020, but there was barely any regional coverage on it, compared to extensive coverage of elections in Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.

For the local media houses, coverage of the continent—outside their coverage of their own countries—accounted for less than 20% of stories covered . Of this 20%, three out of four stories were general Africa-wide ones, with only one out of four specifically from countries in east, west, southern Africa, and north Africa. Central Africa did not feature at all in the stories assessed. Leaning towards general Africa-wide stories contributes to the image of the continent as a monolith even to other Africans.

To address all these issues, and putting its money where its mouth is, Africa No Filter created bird, an agency “dedicated to covering humans, not issues, and telling stories that celebrate Africa’s creativity and innovation through its arts, culture, people, and places.” The agency aims to be a source of fact-checked, copy-edited stories that can be republished free of charge by African media houses and for a fee by others.

With at least two new daily stories in the early pilot phase, some of their headlines include, “The late night Mogadishu,” “The women driving women in Egypt,” “Forget the diaspora…this African island’s [Mauritius’] young generation is “staying home,” and “The [Zimbabwean] lawyer using sculptures to fight Covid-19.” 

“The world is ready for lighter, uplifting stories that reflect this dynamic continent,” says Makura. “It’s up to us, Africa’s media, to deliver them.”

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