News in the News

One more player is coming to the East African media marketplace.

Al Jazeera to open Swahili service (Daily Maverick):

This is big news for the East African media market, which is already the most vigorous in Africa, and is a huge step for the Qatar-based news outlet. Al Jazeera’s rise to prominence has been meteoric. . . .

Its move into the Swahili market is part of a strategy of global expansion, which includes plans for a Turkish Al Jazeera and a Spanish Al Jazeera. Its presence is likely to raise the standards of journalism in the region, as they’ll be able to pay proper money for content. Swahili is one of Africa’s most popular languages. It is estimated that more than 100 million people speak Swahili (even though only 5 million use it as their first language).

Anyone interested in the state of the media in Kenya needs to read a report from AFRICOG: “AFRICOG Investigative Journalism Fellowship Report on Media Corruption”. A lot of what I see in the Western and International media about the media in Kenya and East Africa in general reminds me of a lot of what was reported about Kenya’s “free public education” system until scandals surfaced. Simply superficial. Yes, on the surface, the media in Kenya is relatively free and relatively robust–but you don’t understand how life becomes “news” in Kenya without appreciating corruption and other influences beneath the surface.

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