Media Falls Short, Says Research

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Although the mainstream print media has established itself as a viable commercial proposition, it still falls short when it comes to the question of adequately covering pertinent issues in society, despite a prevailing independent press system in the country. This is the view with which Polytechnic journalism student Frederico Links launched his first research-based document entitled: “We Write What We Like: The Role of Independent Print Media and Independent Reporting in Namibia”, at the Namibia Institute of Democracy (NID) in Windhoek yesterday. The young journalism student further questioned through his publication whether the independent press is fully making use of the constitutionally protected rights of the freedom of the press. In this regard Links cited several deficiencies still prevalent. “The weaknesses in this regard are the lack of true investigative journalism, real economic coverage, the marginalisation of the rural areas (and) the absence of in-depth elections reporting,” said Links, adding that efforts to address this situation have not produced significant positive results so far. In the same vein, he added that he was struck by the non-existence of real research into media in the country, urging an improvement in this regard. At the same time it was disheartening to note that the biggest socio-economic health problem facing the country, namely HIV/Aids is also not receiving enough attention or coverage from the media. Links noted further that 15 years after independence the role of the media is not that clear in an ever changing society, as the media “spends much of their energies and resources on simply producing a newspaper each day without having the time or inclination to really explore the possibilities of their independence”. The publication that critically examines the role that independent print media played in Namibia during the colonial, transitional and democratic periods is a pilot study of the NID’s Mentorship Programme. This programme was launched in an attempt to contribute to academic capacity building among students at tertiary institutions. Project Manager of Public Dialogue Centre Justine Hunter at the same occasion said that the main aim is to widen the country’s local research base by encouraging students to conduct research on social and political issues and to compile reports on their findings. “The students should conduct research on contemporary social and political issues that could be of interest to the Namibian public,” said Hunter, adding that promising academic talent will gain further experience in the process. So far three students stand to benefit from the programme this year and it is envisaged that more will be accommodated in the coming years. It took Links three months to complete this latest research material, focussing on three main print dailies, namely The Namibian, Die Republikein and the Allgemeine Zeitung.