By Amina Asma
On the final day of the Highway Africa-SACOMM Conference 2017, Rhodes academic Dr Vanessa Malila spoke about accountability in the Eastern Cape Education Department.
Malila’s 1 September presentation was The Role of the Media in Social Accountability Advocacy—Understanding the Impact and Visibility in the Case of Education Service Delivery in the Eastern Cape; and it was part of a parallel session under the theme, Development Communication at Rhodes University.
In the study Dr Malila, who is head of the Advocacy Impact Programme at PSAM (the Public service Accountability Monitor), looks deeper into who gathers information and how that information is gathered.
“The main voices one often finds in the media with regards to issues within the education system, are hardly ever the voices of the learners,” Malila said. She added that tone in which information is reported often tells media consumers the stance the media producers have taken. In her opinion, this trend needs to change with the aim for journalists to only “report what they need to report and not to provide their opinion”.
Malila’s other key point was the issue of media producers producing content that displays a lack of interest or lack of knowledge in a subject.
“Get clued up about what you are talking about and if need be take a short course,” Malila advises as a remedy.
She encouraged journalists and media producers to ask themselves the question, ‘how does what I am reporting on genuinely affect someone that might be consuming what I am producing?’
* Amina Asma was reporting for Open Source, the Highway Africa publication