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This article critically interrogates the impact of new information and communication technologies on the institutional practices of mainstream journalists in Nigeria with particular reference to current newsroom practices and how user-generated content (UGC) was incorporated into mainstream media coverage of the 2011 Nigerian election. Rooted in the sociology of journalism, the study employs an ethnographic approach to examine the implications of new information and communication technologies for journalistic practices in Nigeria. With a reading of new information technologies as “alternative journalism”, the ethnography, which deployed in-depth interviews with print journalists as well as newsroom observation, investigated whether “alternative journalism” is challenging traditional newsroom culture in Nigeria. The findings suggest that alternative journalism is redefining the roles of mainstream journalists as “news producers”. Journalists have become “gatewatchers” with everyone else, especially during the 2011 elections when citizens actively engaged with alternative journalism in reporting the elections. However, mainstream journalists continue to contest their hegemonic traditional practices of giving prominence to “official” sources in news reporting, and negotiate how “alternative journalism” in the form of UGC is networked into mainstream reporting to avoid publishing rumours. The study concludes that contrary to scholarship that sees digital technologies as “de-professionalising” journalists, mainstream journalism in Nigeria maintains the dominant discourse by articulating and appropriating content from “alternative” sources for subtle economic motives.

[JUNE 2014] Facebook recently rolled out an update for Android devices that’s supposed to speed things up for users. If that update delivered on its promise, then you’ve got the company’s trip to Africa to thank – that’s how Facebook’s engineers got a taste of how slow the app can be on low-end phones with developing nations’ internet speeds. One of the social network’s engineers, Alex Sourov, detailed in a blog post how they bought several low-end Android phones in Africa to test out their app, which didn’t only crash repeatedly, but also loaded really slowly. Even worse, they ended up consuming a month’s worth of data plan within 40 just minutes trying to use the app. It became apparent that they needed to give their Android app an overhaul if the social network wants to reach even more people around the globe – so they did.

This paper discusses the various ways in which a community newspaper in Mozambique is creatively appropriating new media technologies to enhance its news production and distribution practices. Far from being backward, the case of @Verdade demonstrates that despite being under-resourced, community newspapers in Africa are catching up in terms of creatively appropriating new media technologies. Besides spawning new ways of practising journalism, this article argues that the pervasiveness of new media technologies in the routines of the @Verdade newsroom has engendered collaborative storytelling while at the same time destabilizing traditional journalism’s ethical practices. Using data drawn from qualitative research, the study discusses how the use of social network sites, the mobile phone as well as the internet in general are aiding @Verdade to generate and engage with news sources as well as deliver content to diverse audiences. Drawing on structuration theory (as modified by Orlikowski) and the sociology of journalism approach, the paper argues that the disruptive impact of new media technologies needs to be understood as a duality of influences—the human agency of individual journalists and owners (internal newsroom creativity) vis-à-vis the wider context of news production (restructuring of journalism practice).

The rapid global and regional uptake of smartphones has changed the way people communicate and use the internet. This will transform all other industries. A new phase of rapidly diversifying smartphone use has emerged, as consumers are increasingly able to personalize the content they access. Across society people are looking for mobile innovations to improve their everyday lives.

Sub-Saharan mobile consumers use their devices throughout the day and in different locations and for a broad range of activities. The growing trend for anytime, anywhere access to services and features is a key driver of mobile broadband use in the region. In fact, mobile broadband is now the primary way that many Sub-Saharan consumers access the internet. 70 percent of mobile users in the countries researched in the region browse the web on their devices, in comparison to 6 percent who use desktop computers.

As telecommunication technologies become a central part in the way
businesses and society function, key stakeholders in the region such as government and network providers need to put resources in place that assist in dealing with consumer demand. More spectrum will need to be allocated to support networks, as their capacity is not growing as fast as the increase in data traffic.

Ericsson Mobility Report – Appendix on Sub-Saharan Africa

The ability to buy small amounts of prepaid calling time had enabled the very poor in many countries to gain access to mobile phones. In Latin America, however, high taxes on communication services impedes some of that access, with a typical broadband plan costing 66% more than in the average developed country. In Asia, meanwhile, a low-cost business model has driven high mobile use.

Across the developing world, potential emergencies consistently rank high on surveys as the main reason for buying a phone. Many developing countries lack the standard emergency services found in developed countries. In the absence of such a service, people call a family member or a friend for help in a crisis.

For businesses, saving time and money on transportation has emerged as the greatest economic benefit of mobile phone ownership. Meanwhile, “mobile money” has gained in popularity, suiting the needs of the poor better than conventional banking.

Laurent Elder: The Information Lives of the Poor | Ottawa Citizen, introducing the new book he has co-authored with Alison Gillwald, Rohan Samarajiva and Hernan Galperin.