Why Africa Remains the Dark Continent

by Robin Forman*

Can you find Sudan on a map?

Can you find Darfur?

Forget finding them on a map. Do you know what’s going on in Darfur?

It’s okay if you don’t. And it’s okay if you can’t point to them on a map. It’s not really your fault.

Africa is still the Dark Continent to the United States.

Here’s the main reason: All day the newswires show countless stories coming out of Africa and yet no U.S. network covers them. That’s not right. Occasionally, the networks will pick up one or two stories particularly, if it has to do with a country that provides the U.S. with oil or diamonds or immigrants, who are willing to work for wages so low as to almost make them modern slaves. And CNN’s Your World Today does provide some Africa coverage. But no one watches Your World Today.

If you watched television in the last few days, you would have noticed all of the U.S. networks did do a nice job covering the clean-up of the confetti in Times Square from New Year’s and there were several great and important pieces on hangover cures.

And just after the blithe dribble about drinking do’s and don’ts and the cilantro in your New Year's brunch sofrito the networks did take about 15 seconds each to report that a U.S diplomat was shot and killed in Khartoum, Sudan.

But what about the people who were fleeing the rioting in Kenya who were burned to death as they hid in a church?

What about the doctor and the nurse who were kidnapped by gunmen a couple of days ago in Somalia resulting in the Spanish Doctors Without Borders (Medicins sans Frontieres) pulling all of their foreign staff out of southern Somalia?

The truth is the networks actually are reporting on Africa right now a bit but only because it’s the network New Year's hangover and there isn’t much news coming out of the U.S. That is until the caucuses really start or another snow storm blows through or Britney Spears sneezes.

But that’s an appalling and completely unacceptable standard. The atrocities that are happening in certain parts of Africa are underreported.

There are people over there dying, and, please, let us not forget the calamity that the AIDS virus has wreaked across the continent.

The news is currently the archetype of quantity versus quality. Why not fix that and use some of the 24 hours, 7 days a week of broadcast time to shed a little light on what remains the Dark Continent?

*Robin Forman is a freelance television producer who often works for ABC News in Washington, D.C.

(Photo from Sudan by Steve Evans via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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Lapa said...

Because of o lot of things.

Anonymous said...

interesting blog that I think could provoke long philosophical discussions centering on socio economics and culture and to what degree the world's most wealthy should be held responsible for the worlds major problems.

As often is the case, the British, including their press, politicians and the economic interests, have a much more sophisticated understanding of the problems in Africa, than the USA but they also have much deeper economic ties than do the USA so maybe the answer is there, deepening trade relations is a big first step.

Robin, Daughter of the Desert and American Bad Ass said...

Interesting, Lapa- Do you work for an American Network because I sure do. I'm interested to hear your reasoning backing up the networks' lack of Africa coverage.

The Brits are very good about covering Africa and the economic ties point is astute. However, Al Jazeera also covers Africa well. I'm not sure about their demographic's economic ties. Maybe you know. And if you do please inform me!

Anonymous said...

I'm not very familiar with the Al Jazeera network even if by coincidence I clicked onto their site for the first time, liked it and added it to my news folder.

Al Jazeera's demographic is the Arab world. I can only make intuitive observations based on a few friendships I have with Moslems from Northern Africa. I think it would be logical that Al Jazeera covers Africa well because much of Northern Africa is Arab and Moslem. Folks from the predominantly Arab north, do tend to have economic ties to their neighbors hence, once again the economic angle.

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