US and fake news: Africans should mind their business

The schizophrenic nature of lots of people who follow (watch, listen to or read) that media never ceases to amaze.
US President Donald Trump (C) has blasted a section of the American media as 'fake news'. / Internet photo
US President Donald Trump (C) has blasted a section of the American media as 'fake news'. / Internet photo

Editor,

RE: “Finally, the West is having its fair share of fake news” (The New Times, March 3).

The schizophrenic nature of lots of people who follow (watch, listen to or read) that media never ceases to amaze.

Don’t assume that, because many people have now realised how fake much of the agenda-driven mainstream mass media is in ‘reporting’ on major issues close to home, the same people will automatically extend that understanding of media misinformation to their reporting on Africa.

George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ (which — interestingly — he also labeled ‘newsthink’) is empirically demonstrated on an on-going basis where people and the media are concerned: simultaneously recognising they are inveterate fabricators and disseminators of fake news on their own matters, and yet failing to extend that understanding to matters far away.

Thus, excoriating the media for agenda-driven back home — for instance as regards their coverage of Trump — but choosing to believe that the same lying media somehow become truthful when they report on African issues.

And, by the way, it isn’t only Western media that is agenda-driven. The same can be said for Al-Jazeera and RT. I used to watch Al-Jazeera for its alternative reporting, especially on the Middle East, in order to get a different perspective.

But when it comes to their reporting on Africa, they are pure mainstream western media — perhaps not surprisingly, since many of their reporters are Westerners and they would have a major influence on that station’s editorial line. RT is similarly highly denigrating and as agenda-driven when it comes to its African coverage.

I agree with you on the main issue: Western media reporting on Trump has woken many people to how mass media deliberately misinforms. But I am less concerned with Western ‘news’ viewers, listeners or readers.

It is with Africans I am most concerned with. And, I hope the scales have finally fallen off their eyes so that they are now able to see Western media in all its agenda-driven nakedness.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “If you don’t follow the media, you’re uninformed; if you do, you are misinformed!” I hope fellow Africans have finally understood this truth.

Mwene Kalinda

 

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