Professionals identify viable ways of reporting SDGs at Russia-Africa Media Forum

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By Daud Adebayo


Media professionals and scholars from 32 African countries have identified effective methods of improving media reportage on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the continent.


This emanated from the 2023 Russia-Africa Young Media Practitioners’ Forum held at the end of July in Moscow which featured, among other areas of focus, discussions on the pivotal role of the media in promoting development goals and the challenges of accurately and comprehensively reporting on SDGs in Africa.


The hybrid media forum which was organised by RUDN University in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation had 15 representatives, mostly young media professionals, from 11 countries across Africa which included Nigeria, Cameroon, Rwanda, Tanzania, Cote D’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Algeria, and Egypt.


Analysing SDGs reportage in the African media space, the participants identified the proliferation of false information, lack of professionalism, perpetuation of stereotypes, inadequacy of infrastructure, lack of funding, scarcity of media houses in remote areas, and limited independence and flexibility in implementing SDGs-related contents as the major concerns.


Participants at the two-day event hosted by RUDN University, an institution slso called Patrice Lumumba University, after one of Africa independence symbols, also noted that the detachment of Africa from Russia as a result of the prevalence of information dissemination from Western media outlets was a significant challenge in Russia-Africa relations.


To tackle the identified challenges, the young media practitioners recommended several actionable steps as a framework for improving media reportage on SDGs across Africa.


The recommended steps include prioritising environmental education for awareness and understanding of vital sustainability issues, fostering expert collaboration to improve accuracy, maintaining professional integrity and ethics, diiversifying topics to ensure comprehensive coverage, and educating media professionals on SDGs and better reporting practices.


The participants stressed the need for partnership with Russian educational institutions and media agencies to facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity building, and called for the use of African native languages in SDGs reports to enhance accessibility and engagement.


They also emphasised encouraging journalists to experience SDGs-related situations firsthand for deeper understanding of the issues, and advocated for financial aid from the Russian government for the establishment and support of media outlets dedicated to covering specific SDGs themes to facilitate comprehensive and focused reporting.


The African media professionals and scholars also called for the incorporation of SDGs into school curricula to ensure the younger generation is well-informed about sustainable development and highlighted the need for authentic and positive narratives about Africa against misconceptions and stereotypes.


They also emphasised the significance of personal training and the use of modern tools to enhance the quality and reach of SDGs reporting while stressing the importance of focusing foreign aids on poverty alleviation efforts over military support to foster sustainable development in Africa.


Meanwhile, the participants also recognised the positive advancements in African media literacy and education, including the increasing literacy rate and acknowledged the power journalism in disseminating critical information that can positively impact the society.


The forum, which underscored the need to harness the potential of African media in communicating the development needs, progress, and aspirations of Africa to the world, called for collaboration among media organisations, governments, educational institutions, and civil society for the actualisation of the proposed solutions in the areas of media education and SDGs reporting.

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