Within the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, media coverage has played a crucial role across the globe in providing practical and credible information while influencing perceptions on the spreading of the coronavirus. The global health crisis has changed social norms and practices with the various safety measures put in place by governments, including social and physical distancing, lockdown rules and regulations in some states, all of which are inherently limiting on (some) human rights and liberties.
Within this context, mass media channels and social media have become the primary sources of information, while also being used as sources for fake news and disinformation. This has contributed to the creation of a surgical ‘infodemic’ worldwide and “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”, as defined by The World Health Organization (WHO). This has had volatile effects not only on health workers and health systems, but on populations generally.
Fake news and disinformation through social media have contributed to discrimination and xenophobia affecting Africans in China and Chinese in Africa. Internally among nations in the continent, the stigma towards infected and affected persons has paved the way for discrimination, fear, confusion and division within communities.
This Webinar is moderated by Eric Olander, host of the China Africa Project and Podcast, online partner of the Africa-China Reporting Project.
Joining Eric to discuss the impact of these issues across Africa are journalists from different regions of the continent:
- Aisha Abdool Karim, health reporter at Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism (South Africa)
- Elizabeth Merab, health reporter at Daily Nation, Nairobi (Kenya)
- April Zhu, freelance journalist, Nairobi (China-Kenya)
- Nike Adebowale, health journalist at Premium Times (Nigeria)
Issues discussed in the Webinar will include:
- How regions in Africa are managing the challenge of the infodemic via journalism
- How contrasting perceptions of Africa-China engagement on COVID-19 published through official state media and social media platforms affect journalism
- How social media can be engaged in a responsible way by journalists and citizens amid COVID-19 news and information
- How coverage of COVID-19 has changed from the advent of the pandemic to its spread around the world and its impact on not only health but economic, political, cultural, and business sectors