Twitter as a news medium?

A couple of weeks ago I curated a Twitter list with the intent to see if Twitter could be an alternative news channel. So far there has been both pro’s and con’s of using Twitter as a news source.

The Twitter list has been a good source of information about current news, political matters and social aspects of conflicts in Africa. This is mainly because of the variety on the list, with major news agencies, independent news agencies, politicians, foreign correspondents and humanitarian organisations. It has given me a deeper understanding of the conflicts in Africa and also how under-reported many of these conflicts are.

Although the list has given me many different viewpoints, it has also been hard to follow certain accounts. Africa Review, Invisible Children and Think Africa Press are the accounts that most frequently update their Twitter. Since the other accounts do not update as frequently, they do not often appear in the Twitter list’s news-feed.

Since the last post there has been some additions to the list. Accounts that resemble the ones I had already added came up as suggestions. There has been some great suggestions here, for instance Oliver Nduhungirehe. He works as Minister Counsellor and permanent Representative to the United Nations for Rwanda. In April it was Rwanda’s turn to resume presidency of UNSC and their topic for discussion last month was conflict prevention in Africa. By following Nduhungirehe I got a good overview almost day for day what issues were discussed.

updated twitter list 2

Most of the additions to the Twitter list are related to Rwanda’s presidency in UNSC. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda” (MINAFFET Rwanda) and “Mission of Rwanda UN” were tweeting updates on the debate in UNSC during the whole of April. The last addition to the Twitter list is news organisation “Daily Nation” from Kenya. 

There are currently no followers of the Twitter list, I believe that it is because I have not promoted it enough. I wanted to see for myself first whether it could work as good source of information. I must say it has proven to be a very effective way to consume a lot of information in a short amount of time, but I would love to get your take on Twitter as a news medium on the poll I set up.

If you wish to follow my list on conflicts in Africa, click here

Twitter list for conflicts in Africa

The best way to keep updated on the conflicts in Africa is actually through social media, which is why I have compiled a list of several Twitter accounts worth following. Often we see that breaking news are quicker to be on Twitter than in an online newspapers, simply because it is easier to chuck out a maximum of 140 letters than a 400-500 word long news article.

  1. Africa 24 Media: Africa 24 Media’s focus is to give Africa a voice through making documentaries, features, series programs and photography. The content on their webpage is available for everyone.
  2. Think Africa Press: Think Africa Press covers story’s that are not globally covered. They have journalists in Africa as well as international experts. This news page offers a more in depth analysis of current issues in Africa.
  3. Africa Review: Africa review provides a critical insider perspective on African news. It is also a place where you can share your opinions on events happening in Africa and also read other opinions. Although it is supported by Kenyan “Nation Media Group“, they cover news stories from the whole continent.
  4. Louise Redvers: Louise is a former Africa correspondent for BBC. She has worked five years in Africa, but is now working in the Middle East. Even though she is no longer in Africa I still think she is worth following because of her knowledge and interest in Africa that we can see from her tweets.
  5. African Union Peace: African Union Peace, as their name says, works to promote peace, security and sustainability in Africa. Their Twitter account keeps us updated on their latest efforts in conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
  6. Louise Mushikiwabo: Louise is the Minster of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Rwanda. During months of April, Rwanda has presidency in UNSC, where they will be focusing on “Prevention of conflict in Africa: addressing the root causes”. Louise is one of the central persons in this debate, so she is the right person to follow to keep track of what is happening at UNSC this month.
  7. Invisible Children: Invisible children is a really good source for keeping updated on the charity work “Invisible children” do in Central Africa. This charity created one of the most watched videos on YouTube through all time, Kony 2012. A video that informed the audience about the atrocities being committed by Joseph Kony and his rebel group the LRA. They are working towards arresting Joseph Kony and getting him on trial in the international criminal court.
  8. Andrew Harding: Andrew has been BBC’s foreign correspondent in Africa since 2009. He covers all kinds of news in Africa and has several tweets sharing his insight on ongoing conflicts. I would encourage you to have a look at the lists he follows, especially the one called “Newsday Africa”.
  9. APO: African press organisation is a very good media release resource for journalists and others interested. They are the leading press release organisation in Africa. APO offers advice and information on strategy, public diplomacy, government relations and event promotion.
  10. Ginny Stein: Ginny is ABC Africa‘s correspondent, she is based in Kenya. During her career she has won three Walkley awards, her second award was for her episode on “Rwanda – questions of murder”. Her Twitter feed does not only consist of her articles, but also interesting retweets related to African news.
  11. Reuters Africa: Reuters is an internationally recognised newsagency. Part of why they are so recognised is because of their focus on objectivity in their articles. Therefore I think Reuters Africa is a really good source to follow, because then you know the information you get is accurate and objective.
Twitter list for conflicts in Africa

Twitter list for conflicts in Africa

If you wish to follow me on Twitter click here.

Kony 2012 – The year “everyone” became an activist

Many conflicts in Africa are very complex and have been going on for many years, which is a big part of why they become “forgotten conflicts”. Just as the the Kony 2012 video referees to the conflict in Central Africa being about “the invisible children”. It is now over a year since the Kony 2012 campaign video was published, has it achieved what it set out to?

The Kony 2012 campaign was launched by a non-profit organisation called “Invisible children” and their aim with their video was to inform the public about Joseph Kony. Kony is the leader of a militant group called LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). “Invisible children” wanted to make Kony famous so the public would be aware of the crimes against humanity Kony has committed. The LRA have abducted and forced children to be sex-slaves and soldiers. Since 1986 it has been estimated that 66 000 children have become soldiers. Because of his actions, Kony is number one on the “International Criminal Court’s” wanted list, with a count of 33 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court is not allowed to charge for crimes that happened before it was founded, therefore no crimes before 2002 will be prosecuted. I am sure that the number of charges against Kony would be completely different if crimes before 2002 were also counted in.

Kony 2012

Source: Flickr
Photo courtesy of: ra_coons

It all started with conflicts between several Ancholi tribes in Uganda during Idi Amin Dada‘s regime. However Dada lost the power to another Ancholi group leader called Yoweri Museveni. Not to be mistaken for the Italian dictator Mussolini. As a protest against Museveni and his leadership Kony founded the LRA.

The LRA is based on African myths, Christian fundamentalism, Islam and Acholi tradition. Kony claims that he has contact with god and acts as a spokesperson. He wanted to overthrow the government and create a “ten commandment” state. If you want to learn more about Joseph Kony, I suggest you have a look at this interview. Where Kony explains his actions as a “democratic freedom fighter”.

Although “Kony 2012” was a great initiative to inform the public of a current conflict, it has received much criticism. The criticism was directed at the simplified depiction of the conflict in Uganda. However, I think that for this conflict to appeal to the public in the way it did, it needs to be simplified, because it is a complex conflict. The thing I find most misrepresented by the “Kony 2012” video is that the conflict is explained to be going on in Northern-Uganda, but the reality is that the LRA activity in Uganda has been low for years. The LRA are still active, though they have moved on to the democratic republic of Congo and the Central African Republic in later years, which we can see from this LRA tracker map.

Map of Africa, countries with LRA activity are The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and a small part of South Sudan

But I want to point out what “Invisible Children” actually have achieved. With putting the conflict in Central Africa on the world agenda, they have managed to create a huge worldwide initiative fighting for a good cause. After Kony 2012 the LRA killings of civilians have decreased with 67 %, which cannot only be explained by video, but also by LRA’s movement to other countries. They have built three FM towers so they can warn the population before attacks happen. They are now covering 26801 miles with their radio frequency, so that they can reach out to a large amount of people in a crucial time. Two of the commanders in LRA have been removed from the battlefield. 690000 defection fliers have been distributed in the democratic republic of Congo and Central African Republic, these fliers are designed to appeal to the members of the LRA and make them think about why they are in the LRA and to let them know that they will be welcomed back into society if they choose to surrender. This is only a few things of what they have achieved, more can be found here.

I do not think any other video on serious matter has more views on Youtube than Kony 2012. So in the end “Invisible children” has achieved what they set out to do, more people now know about the conflict in Central Africa. By watching the video many people have researched the conflict even more to form their own opinion. However, the Kony 2012 campaign has not yet reached their ultimate goal, which is to arrest Kony and put him on trial in the International Criminal Court. All the media attention directed to Kony has made him change his tactics and go into hiding, but that has also resulted in less activity from LRA. I am pretty sure Kony will not get away with his actions, just like Osama bin Laden could not hide forever either.

Discussion is more than welcome; share your opinions on Kony and the conflict.

About

Welcome to “the Norwegian perspective”

My name is Susanne Tunge Østhus and I am currently studying journalism at La Trobe University in Melbourne. As you can see from my weird last names, I am not Aussie. I moved from Norway in July 2012 to study in Australia for three years. Why not just study in Norway? Is something I get asked all the time. The answer is that I want a more international education, so that I can feed my urge for travelling while working.

In the future, I aim to become a foreign correspondent and report on the news from where and when they are happening. International news is something that has always interested me and I like to keep track of what is going on all around the world. I often see that mainstream media seem to forget many ongoing conflicts; therefore, this blog is dedicated to look deeper into these forgotten conflicts, mainly in Africa. There are so many conflicts happening now in Africa, but lately the conflicts in countries such as Libya, Mali, and Syria are the ones with the most media attention. However, the reality is that 15 countries in Africa are either in conflict or in post-war conflict.

What happened in Uganda after the worldwide campaign against Kony in 2012? Why is the Sudanese government fighting the population of Darfur? Why has the soon 60 year old conflict between Sunni Muslims and Christians in Nigeria not been solved yet?

These questions are a little preview of conflicts and topics I will look deeper into and report on. In a while, I want to expand the blog to look at conflicts in Asia as well.