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Le Monde Afrique's first week in review

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Le Monde Afrique's first week in review

Le Monde Afrique’s release coincided with the BBC’s announcement that African news will also receive greater coverage on their site. 

These moves were incited by a number of factors, including an increase in African mobile users. The BBC’s mobile users have seen an annual 40% increase over recent years. Reaching 96 million people in Africa each week, the BBC is the largest international broadcaster on the continent. 

Le Monde has already been surpassed by various anglophone newspapers in a trend to extend readership overseas, with The Guardian's release of editions in the US and Australia, and the Financial Times' Asian newspaper.

With France and Britain's historical and cultural ties to Africa, it makes for a competitive environment between Le Monde Afrique and the BBC. By recruiting 30 chiefly African ‘on the ground’ journalists, Le Monde Afrique can also avoid the potential shortfalls of parachute reporting, a common practice among Western news outlets. 

Serge Michel, Le Monde’s Editor-in-chief, hopes the Le Monde Afrique can capitalise on small, unreported events and go into more depth on stories which have been reported on a superficial level through Western media.

“We stress the importance of receiving information from Africa, rather than sending directions down to the continent.”

The new edition aims to decentralise the newspaper’s focus on France and substitute the view from the ‘outside’ on African news with a francophone-African perspective, related through the eyes of ‘on the ground’ reporters. 

“We believe that a pan-African coverage of 54 countries on the continent can help France open itself to the other Africa, the anglophone but also lusophone Africa," says Michel.

"We also believe that previously this relationship was unilateral and that it must be rethought as a two-way street. We believe in co-development. That is why such a big part of Le Monde Afrique’s contributors are African, and why we hold that Le Monde Afrique is not French, but francophone.”

The misrepresentation of African culture in Western media has been attracting increasing attention. Le Monde Afrique openly addressed this issue in one of its first articles: “The ‘moderate muslim’- a modern-day image of the ‘good negro’”. Renouncing neither Charlie Hebdo’s publications nor its cause, the article suggests that France’s mass rally sparked a widespread misconception in Europe that all Africans are inseparable to Islam.

Michel says that there should be no difference between the set of journalistic values, views and approaches underpinning Le Monde Afrique and Le Monde France. However, he notes that the newspaper “will be targeting a younger audience in Africa and to do this, might adjust the tone or way certain articles are entitled." 

"[Le Monde Afrique] will also use a range of social media platforms, where the journalistic guidelines are often different.”

A report under the website’s ‘Culture’ section reveals an emerging ‘underground scene’ among Algerian youth, encouraging greater artistic freedom through a new musical genre combining berber music with jazz. 

Still, the website’s front page and this week’s second most circulated piece feature the headlines “Understand Boko Haram in 5 minutes” and “Can we laugh at Ebola?”, giving the same emphasis to these issues as Western media.

However, a significant portion of Le Monde Afrique’s articles also dispense with Africa’s superficial trademarks of deficit, disease and social turmoil. 

As a sign of what direction Le Monde Afrique may take, four of its editors co-authored an interview with Cameroonian philosopher and post-colonialism theoretician Achille Mbembe, which offers a refreshing perspective on the continent's potential.

Mbembe calls on Africa to: “Assume the same role that Europe played throughout history”. According to him, African development demands that the continent remove its frontiers and “open up to itself and to the rest of the world”, integrating foreign talent into its culture. It must build larger infrastructures, including railways for faster and freer internal circulation, and exploit its breadth of natural resources to increase employment and bring more financial resources into the continent. 

Due to Le Monde Afrique’s independence from African censorship, many African activists who are afraid of being compromised in their home countries can turn to the francophone newspaper. 

Most recently, Le Monde Afrique released a story exposing the corruption behind a billion-dollar conflict between two Libyan factions. The factions are claiming rights over Gaddafi’s recently discovered hidden assets- $10 billion stockpiled in South Africa and its neighbouring states. 

Le Monde Afrique’s primary source, Erik Goaied, an investigator and arms dealer, denounced the African factions by claiming “they were trying to steal money with many false documents”. 

Goaied was forced to flee from the continent with incriminating documents on the African leaders, finding protection in Washington. Because Libya’s media is state-owned, Goaied had no chance of raising political awareness through local news outlets, finding the perfect opportunity through Le Monde Afrique.

Author

Alexandra Sazonova-Prokouran

Date

2015-01-29 16:20

Author information

The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.


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