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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Award Winner: Research about Journalism


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Monday, July 13, 2009
SDX Award Winner: Research about Journalism

By Jim Poyser

Research About Journalism

WINNER: MINABERE IBELEMA

“The African Press, Civic Cynicism, and Democracy”

PULBISHED BY PALGRAVE MACMILLAN

Whereas the African press had been ambivalent in its support of democracy, it has now decidedly embraced it and is valiantly defending it,” author Minabere Ibelema said. In his book, “The African Press,” Ibelema cautions that though the African press “is now doing a credible job as watchdogs on the government, it is not doing as good a job in critiquing and advancing the civic values of the populace.”

Five years in the making, Ibelema’s book (published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2008) focuses “on the role of the press in addressing civic values in general.” His chief concern is civic cynicism, “the overarching and pervasive belief that one cannot be successful by following rules and processes.” This, he said, “is at the heart of much of what goes wrong in Africa, from fraud and corruption to the rigging of elections.”

Judges said: “This is not a love story: The press is shown supporting military coups and corrupt officials as well as the most forthrightly democratic of Africa’s leaders. If anything, the story is amoral and suggests — using America as an example — that a government gains true legitimacy and support only after the press cultivates a religious fervor for the processes of government in its citizens. Ibelema finds that the press has an active and involved role in shaping government from the populist end. And in a time when the American press is increasingly treated as a commodity tailored to the wants of consumers, his conclusions are a sobering reminder of the duty — and power — of journalism.”

Ibelema lived through the Nigerian civil war in his mid-teens and grew up “with a keen awareness of the tragedy that can result when the democratic process goes awry,” he wrote. “This book is my contribution to the dialogue on how to position Africa for a better future.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/lshl38

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