UCT launches Global Media Index for Africa

05 June 2024 | Story Staff writer. Photo Pexels. Voice Cwenga Koyana. Read time 5 min.
The GMI is an initiative of UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies in collaboration with Africa no Filter, and the Africa Centre, New York.
The GMI is an initiative of UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies in collaboration with Africa no Filter, and the Africa Centre, New York.

The Global Media Index for Africa (GMI) – a pioneering initiative that tracks how 20 of the world’s most influential news providers report on news related to the African continent – revealed that there is room for improvement when it comes to covering new, progressive narratives on Africa.

The GMI is an initiative of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Centre for Film and Media Studies and was carried out in collaboration with Africa No Filter – a non-profit organisation (NPO) that works to challenge and change harmful narratives on Africa; and the Africa Centre, New York – a multidisciplinary NPO that provides a gateway for engagement with contemporary Africa. Compiled by a team of leading UCT researchers, the index was officially launched in report form on Monday, 27 May, and emphasises the trends and biases that relate to global media narratives about Africa.

“Our research provides not just a snapshot of current media practices, but a call to action for global media to critically examine their storytelling about Africa and understand its impact,” said Associate Professor Wallace Chuma from UCT’s Centre for Film and Media Studies.

An extensive media evaluation

Described as an extensive media evaluation, the GMI analysed over 1 000 online news articles from top media outlets, including CNN, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Guardian, over a six-month period. The yardstick used to assess news outlets’ content looked at the number of African countries covered in their coverage, the diversity profile of sources interviewed and quoted and whether news topics covered were broad-ranging and inclusive. The depth of coverage, which measured balance, context and stereotype avoidance were also closely surveyed.


“The index serves as a baseline from which we can push for more nuanced and equitable media narratives.”

According to the research results, The Guardian ranks in first place on the index when it comes to its overall coverage of the continent, with a score of 63%. AFP and Reuters agencies rank in second and third place – scoring 61% and 60% respectively. Meanwhile, three leading United States powerhouse media organisations – The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post – rank lowest on the list in 18th, 19th and 20th place – scoring just 51%, 48% and 47% respectively.

“The index serves as a baseline from which we can push for more nuanced and equitable media narratives. This study marks an important step towards challenging the status quo and enriching global understanding of Africa,” said Associate Professor Chuma.

Some positives

Reassuringly, most media outlets surveyed scored high on the “depth of coverage” indicator. This indicator assessed balance, stereotype, context and framing, and proves that the most well-funded media organisations in the world are aware of the tenets of a good news story.

“Media narratives shape the perspectives that determine how global decision makers engage with Africa. Media coverage of Africa has become more balanced over the years, largely due to the advent of social media that offers first-person counter-narratives to biases in journalism based on antiquated beliefs,” said Dr Uzodinma Iweala, CEO for the Africa Center.

“The GMI shows that there is room for more voices, more experiences, and more coverage that reflect the shifts happening across the continent, which will encourage greater opportunities for African people, and ultimately, for the world.”

A bold move

Moky Makura, the executive director for Africa No Filter, described the index as a bold move, and said the influence global outlets have on how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself cannot be ignored.

“It is in our interest as concerned Africans to track and monitor what and how they write about us. But it’s important that we see the index as a carrot, rather than a stick. We are highlighting what is working and showing what is possible when it comes to reporting on Africa,” Makura said.

The GMI is the largest manual study of media analysis ever conducted for an African media index.

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