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African Media Summit Focuses on Image Making 


Delegates at the African international media summit in Ghana are proposing to create a good-news network to combat Africa's doom-and-gloom image. Some of the delegates complain international coverage of Africa is unfair.

The meeting of media and government representatives from across the African continent has focused on how to change the negative image of Africa as portrayed in the international media.

Participants say the process of re-branding Africa, or giving it a better image, must be sensitive, truthful and from a pan-African perspective.

Desta Meghoo, International Development Consultant, presented the summary of the deliberations of the summit. She says the media have a very important role to play in the process of changing Africa's perception.

"The media should not just be a messenger," said Desta Meghoo. "The media has to be a part of the entire process from the beginning to the point of delivery to the public. That means that they have to be involved in how these stories will be told, in a true honest, authentic way, balanced way. How will we shape values in terms of what is a good story, what is a bad story?"

Delegates at the summit proposed to combat negative reporting by creating a network for the distribution of positive news continent-wide. Adrienne Diop, media director at the Economic Community of West African States, says Africans themselves need to hear upbeat stories from the continent.

Consultant Meghoo said the summit also identified the development of intellectual property as an essential tool.

"These are our jewels, our resources, so we have to start branding them and putting them in a positive perspective, to lead the steps, our culture, even intellectually, I mean all of Africa," she said. "We are known for having great intellectuals that are developed on this continent."

Journalists themselves, at an international press conference linking Accra, Abuja, Freetown, Tunis and Washington, urged African governments to enact legislation to make access to information easier.

The journalists also called for greater investment in media infrastructure both at national and pan-African level.

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