If African countries are to ensure media transparency and accountability, a continuously-updated ‘one-stop shop’ of searchable online relevant information on media accountability is needed, and should be a valuable resource. This site has been set up to answer this need. It will enhance the rights of access to information and the development of an enabling environment for media policy development, by making ‘best practice’ on media accountability available at the click of a mouse.
Media accountability has become an increasingly important issue, globally and in Africa. State accountability has become a discredited practice, yet many media systems are grappling with the question of who media organizations should be accountable to. The quality of media has become an issue of global concern, and in much African media, government controlled content especially violates journalistic ethics of fairness, without any opportunities for redress by those on the receiving end.
In an era of widening media production, and increasing amounts of public content in circulation, the issue of accountability becomes an extremely important dividing line in terms of the credibility of information and opinion in public circulation. In turn, this is an essential dimension for a well-functioning democracy.
In the changing information environment, new and inventive ways need to be found to ensure that those who set themselves up as doing journalism ‘practice what they preach’ when it comes to accountability and transparency, and become transparent and accountable themselves. Media freedom advocates cannot afford to be complacent on questions of media accountability. If systems that have been put in place do not work well, then space is created for governments to step in and attempt to impose government regulation. This site provides information resources to complement these efforts.
The objectives of the site are as follows:
- To provide a public knowledge resource on media accountability issues in Africa.
- To review the existing media accountability mechanisms in Africa.
- To do this through a fast, flexible and free online resource.
- Through this, and in recognition of globalization, to leverage the sum of the separate and piecemeal parts of policy in the African region into a greater knowledge whole, and in the context of global practice.
- To stimulate debate around the subject.
- To promote the resource to all relevant stakeholders, again using the networks described above.
- To encourage a research-based approach to policy on media accountability and assessment by means of providing an easy-to-use comprehensive facility.
- To build a culture of knowledge sharing in the region.
- To provide media practitioners with a fast, user friendly resource to inform their own work on strengthening media accountability.
- To ensure that this database is readily accessible from UNESCO’s website.
- To seek to build on this initiative towards a broader knowledge resource of law and policy on the African Information Society.