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Effects of Democratic Strains on Journalism

james Siguru Wahutu was interviewed for the February 2021 edition of the International Affairs Forum. The interview covers the state of journalism in 2020, what U.S. journalists can learn from African journalists, social media and surveillance, and Kenya’s Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act.

“One of the things that African journalism has tremendous experience in is working in a State where the regime is outrightly hostile,” he said. “For example, many an African journalist knows how to cover an outgoing regime that threatens to overturn a legitimate election. They know what to look out for, what to report, and what to ignore. African journalists have long been engaged in what Joan Donovan and danah boyd term Strategic Silence and Strategic Amplification. African journalists know that not every conspiracy or every fringe group needs to be breathlessly covered. They understand that bad actors need to be outrightly called bad actors rather than hedging in the name of ‘objectivity.’ For example, they know that if a politician with rumored presidential ambitions is calling for tanks on the street, this is not a curious factoid but a message with implicit and explicit framing. As such, coverage must strongly repudiate it for what it is without trying to ‘see the other side’ of the argument.”

Read the interview (begins on page 43)

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