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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid