News / Africa

Focus on Guinea’s Media as Legislative Poll Nears

FILE - Opposition protestors clash with police in Conakry, Guinea, May 2013.
FILE - Opposition protestors clash with police in Conakry, Guinea, May 2013.
Nancy Palus
— In the Guinean capital, Conakry, journalists and civil society leaders have been discussing the role of the media in fostering stability during upcoming legislative polls. Relatively new to democratic elections, the West African country has seen violent clashes stemming from political rivalries, and the slightest rumor or partisan report can spark trouble.

The political divide in Conakry is such that a friendly debate on current affairs among university-educated young men can turn quite heated. This discussion, over traditional sweet tea, had its rowdy moments. But it all ended with laughs and handshakes.

Friendly debate is not always the norm in Conakry, where deep government-opposition rivalry, coupled with dire living conditions, has time and again prompted violence in the streets.

Most recently, in May, the opposition staged protests - deeply suspicious of the government's intentions in the upcoming parliamentary election. They resulted in two days of deadly clashes.

Guineans say the media - especially in the run-up to the September 24 legislative poll - has a pivotal role in ensuring that a tense climate does not degenerate into chaos. But is a tense climate reason to restrain coverage? Local journalists walk a fine line.

In 2010, Guinea entered a political transition with its first-ever open and transparent presidential election. The change opened the way for greater press freedom, but repression is still a problem. The global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders says authorities have often pointed to the country’s social “fragility” as a pretext for stifling the media. Some Guineans say some local reporters, though, indeed exploit social and ethnic divisions, and must take care not to do so.

Media reports

"I listen to certain radio broadcasts, I’m terrified. I don’t want to go out for fear of being attacked," said Ibrahima Kalil Condé, who works for a logistics firm in Conakry. "Some broadcasts sow terror and hatred among Guineans, and this is what journalists absolutely must avoid."

Condé said he has heard radio interviews or man-on-the-street exchanges that include insults against certain ethnic groups. He said such broadcasts appear intent on provoking, not informing.

But radio station director Cherif Papus Gono said that while there is some misconduct in the media, Guinean citizens are becoming more discerning. He said the people are increasingly able to distinguish between objective and non-objective media outlets and reporters.

The international NGO Search for Common Ground, the U.N., and other institutions are holding forums in the run-up to legislative polls, in part to discuss the “social responsibility” of the media.

Social responsibility

Mohamed Condé is secretary-general in Guinea’s communications ministry. He said in Guinea “social responsibility” means journalists taking into account the country’s unique socio-political context as they report and diffuse information, and this could mean holding back information likely to provoke unrest.

Bangaly Camara is director of Guinea’s Institute of Information and Communication, where he trains local journalists. He said journalists are reaching thousands of people at a time, and what they must understand is that first and foremost they are citizens, and it is not at all in their interest to fuel tensions. If journalists dissect candidates’ campaign messages and help voters make an informed choice, he said, they will have played their role and all Guineans come out ahead.

Guinea has scores of private radio and TV stations and websites. In a country where about 60 percent of the population is illiterate and recurrent power cuts make television-watching rare, most people get their news from radio.

In a 2011 report, Reporters Without Borders said Guinean media remain riven with ethnic divisions, and state media gave very limited play to the opposition. And there are continued concerns about crackdowns on journalists.

Guinea is ranked 86th out of 179 countries in Reporters Without Borders yearly press freedom index.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid