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About GlobalMatch's Postcolonial Meetings Do we want to go "back to normal" or is there time and space for change?
At GlobalMatch we aim at bringing people together and we believe that it is even more important to do so in times of a global crisis. While the world is at lock down and social distancing is key we invited people from Global South and Global North to come together in online meeting rooms and to talk about more than the everyday-corona-talk.
Originally, this series of Postcolonial Meetings started in Kampala, Uganda, offline. When we planned to start these discussion groups in Germany, we didn't know yet how much a pandemic would alter our everyday lives and global relations so quickly.
However, the crisis shows how deeply connected everything is, how much connected we are. And it brings up a lot of questions!
Why do we meet separatly first? Each topic will be discussed on two following Wednesday evenings. On the first Wednesday, two meetings take place simultaneously, one for Global South (8 pm EAT) and one for Global North (7 pm CET), each in their own online meeting room. At GlobalMatch we aim to connect people and to provide a safe and open space for discussion. Reflecting about postcolonial topics can become quite sensitive at times. For the sake of more openness and comfort we will first have the discussion separately to get familiar with each topic. On the following Wednesday we come together for a combined discussion. Everyone is welcome to join!
Sign up here for our next Postcolonial discussion coming Wednesday!
2nd Combined Online Meeting, Global South & Global North, on 6th of May 2020: "What role does media play for the relationship between Global North and Global South Covid19 crisis?”
Participants- Svenja, Opolet, Himadri, Saikat, Caesar, Katharina, Charles, Bright, Sebastian, Olaf Moderator- Opolot Protocol Writer- Himadri, Caesar
"He who controls the media, controls the mind of the public."
Representation of Covid19 crisis in Global South in so called “mainstream media”: The representation of the Global South in Global North media is biopolar. First, there was a lot of concern on the Global North side about Covid19 spreading very fast in countries of the Global South and that these countries would not be able to control the virus due to their poor healthcare systems. (However, not only international but national media in developing countries for example in India was and is spreading a lot of worries about how India as nation will battle successfully against the virus, given the poor conditions of hospitals and shortage of medical staff. Even in Uganda, there was a lot of anticipation in Media regarding Covid initially.) It was not at all taken into consideration that many African countries have long battled severe viruses and deadly diseases like Ebola and on account of their experience, they might be better prepared to fight the present crisis. Second, when the virus has been strongly controlled in African countries and infection rate has been very low, instead of learning from their methods and measures, Global North started wondering whether African bodies were immune to the disease. In fact, people in Global North were not always aware of the low virus cases in African countries because mainstream media is not focusing on it.
Africa, a rich continent, has always been side-lined in a lot of world affairs, and has not been given its due position for innovations in technology and science. We take a recent example related to Covid19. In Madagascar, a Covid19 herbal remedy called COVID–ORGANICS was discovered that has eventually cured two people according to reliable sources in that country, and no deaths have been recorded till now in Madagascar. They are using the herbal medicine but many western media and the WHO have only discouraged everyone to use that herbal medicine. Africans and their ancestors for a long time have used herbal medicine that have been known to cure many diseases. That African countries like Tanzania, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho have now imported the herbal medicine has not been a topic in any media reports in the Global North. Thus, the conclusion that we arrived at, is that the mainstream media in the Global North has been prejudiced in representing the Covid19 situation in African countries.
In times when many countries in Global North are facing acute shortage of drugs, they including Germany have been importing a lot of medicines from India and this news has gotten space in some newspapers like the German Bild but not in Spiegel. Therefore, it calls attention to not only what news get the space but also in which newspapers or magazine it gets the space, which ultimately can be seen as reflecting on the ideology of the paper or news channel.
National Media in Global South: The participants from Uganda talked very positively about the media in their country. News channels and radio proved to be very useful in spreading awareness and advices regarding Covid19. Ministry of health and government took the right measures and media did a great job in sensitizing people. In another instance, some nations in order to keep the situation calm have also been suppressing some essential information, for example Sudan, a country with a population of 12 million people had only four ventilators and this fact has been suppressed in national as well as international media one particpant remarked. People became aware only after the audit was published by WHO.
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."
Factors informing the role of Media: Instead of getting into neutral or biased media, we tried to get into what players inform the ideology or inclination of media. In Germany, public broadcasters are funded by taxes and are not controlled by private agencies, therefore they try to be more balanced in their reporting but that is not the case with all the channels, particularly those who are owned by capitalist bodies. We see the contrast between liberal and conservative media very clearly in the USA. CNN, ABC and VOA will condemn all the decisions and actions by USA President Trump, whereas the conservative news media like the Fox news network supports and advertises President Trump’s actions. Therefore, the inclination of media towards some direction is measured by at least two factors, its political ideology, and sponsorships etc. There has been a burst of news channels and newspapers everywhere which lead to diversification in news from the time when people had only one national channel and newspaper, but it is very important to understand that media in the current times is a part of the capitalist system and in order to generate money, there is an overproduction of news mostly everywhere. We noted as well that the EU, USA and China are more repsented in media in Global South and Global North because this is where the economy is strong and where the capitalist world order is being determined. With a postcolonialist perspective one could say this is where the power lies.
General realisations: We noticed as well that we tend to generalize the media and tried to share some valued and appreciated newspapers and platforms that we find are reporting in a somwhat balanced way. In the end it is always best to use different sources and to read or watch and follow different broadcasteres, newspapers and reporter to get the whole picture.
How media could be better platforms: Instead of being just a capitalist puppet, news channels and newspapers should invite general public to take part in its forum and inform its decisions. Social media, although accused of many a times spreading fake news, brings the news faster and has helped bring community together and could strive to do better in these times. As a result of Covid19, rebel countries have ceased fire and media could use this opportunity as a peace negotiator between rebel countries and world.
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