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#AfricaBlogging – How bloggers are taking over from traditional media

Short thesis

Social/political blogging contributes to diversity of opinion across Africa. Bloggers are filling the shoes of traditional media that struggles to stand as a real pillar of democracy. In this context, blogging provides news analysis in contrast to the hysteria of social media news coverage. Away from lifestyle blogs, what is therefore the role of social/political bloggers – to provide analysis of the issues of our day, to offer an alternative voice or to remain independent/credible at all costs?

Description

Political bloggers and online activists have gained increasing levels of attention by governments since their key role as information transmitters during the so called “Arab Spring”. In many parts of Africa, authorities can feel threatened by bloggers who are able to bypass the gatekeepers with their online avenues to free expression. Independent voices are regarded as threats and are monitored by state security networks. In this context, blogger networks can help to provide exchange, updates and common purpose.

The international blogger network #AfricaBlogging is an online platform featuring a plurality of voices and views supporting democratic culture and debate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2015 in Johannesburg, its members believe that blogs play a major role in providing information and diversity of opinion in Africa. They are committed to encouraging open debate on matters that are at times not adequately covered by traditional media such as politics, economics, gender equality, health and social matters.

However, there is a growing trend for bloggers to be monetized ‘multiplicators’ and to become brands. Those who shun the native advertising and commercialization trends and feel their function in the information ecosystem is to offer critical analysis that fills the space between events and conventional media reporting, have to fight to remain independent and credible.

From cyber-activism campaigns that helped bring an end to the Jammeh regime in the Gambia to the political reality-check that bloggers have been able to offer more recently about Zimbabwe’s political development, members of the network are at the forefront of social and political change across Africa.

Join us in this session with three members of #AfricaBlogging to discuss the positioning of bloggers between activists and political analysts, how to remain independent and credible, and what it means to be a successful blogger in the post-truth world of social media and fake News.