Interview with Trevor Ncube, Deputy Chairman of M&G Media Ltd in Africa and Chairmann of Alpha Media Holdings in Zimbabwe, who will speak at the 2012 Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in June.
DW: You said in a recent interview that “media freedom means the ability of African people to express themselves.” Would you say that one of the goals of your newspapers is to motivate people to raise their own concerns in public debate?
TN: We own three newspapers in Zimbabwe and two in South Africa. Our goal is to provide quality editorial content to our audiences and enable them to participate in national debates and shape how they are governed. We are passionate about freedom of expression, democracy, human rights and the progress of the African people. Vibrant, independent media are important for a prosperous Africa.
DW: As a journalist you highlight the “watchdog” role of the press, especially of the daily papers. Are newspapers in Africa more than just means of information?
TN: Newspapers in Africa play a critical developmental role and help provide a marketplace for ideas. They also have an educational role on a continent that is hungry for information. History has shown that societies that experience rapid sustainable economic growth are those that hold those in power accountable to the people - and Africa is no exception.
DW: To what extent do African governments see the media as a factor in promoting civic education?
TN: Unfortunately, many African governments see the media as an enemy and tend to undermine the media’s role to inform and educate. African governments are particularly uncomfortable with investigative journalism because it tends to unearth a lot of corruption and abuse of power by those in political office. Indeed, many African governments have enacted undemocratic laws that impinge on freedom of expression and press freedom.
DW: Do you think that Africa receives fair and balanced coverage in the Western media?
TN: Africa is beginning to tell its own story. It is still in an early stage, but the fact is that this is starting to happen. We cannot tell the Western media how they should cover Africa. The Western media’s obsession with all manner of negative things about Africa, such as war and famine, will be changed by the many positive stories that are coming out of Africa. The Western media cannot afford to ignore the progress that Africa is making without risking their relevance. Yes, Africa has problems, but the continent is on the move, as has been confirmed by a number of surveys in the recent past.