Media urged to cover land issue
28 November 2017
The media have been called on to report on property and land rights issues to ensure that the historical narratives are not lost to the young generation.
Speaking during a panel discussion during a land and policy conference held in Addis Ababa, last week , Thomson Reuters Foundation editor and property rights and deputy editor Astrid Zweynet said there were diverse angles that media could report on to ensure that ordinary people would be interested to learn more on land and property rights.
She said land rights contained interesting narratives that should be told and shared widely, and in the process bolstering readership.
“Land rights are at the centre of development anywhere.
“However media only focus on the land issue when there are violent disputes, evictions, conflicts and natural disasters. There are several angles that the media can pursue,” she said.
Focusing on positive narratives was critical in increasing readership while giving a holistic insight into land and property rights issues.
“As a publication, we have been able to publish over 800 land rights stories, which have reached about 700 million readers.”
She however noted with concern that big media organizations like New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and several others in Africa were publishing less stories on property and land rights, yet the narratives remain relevant.
A journalist from Nigeria Bukola Adebayo of the Punch said the land and property rights narratives were getting adequate coverage in her country ahead of other stories.
“Africa is at the center stage of land distributions and the narrative is best told by people who are the centre of the unfolding events,” she said.
Giving an example of the fast track land reform programme that Zimbabwe undertook, Adebayo said the narrative on the programme can still be told in various ways than merely writing negative stories on the whole exercise.
She however noted that a plethora of problems could impede on land and property rights coverage in Africa,
with lack of adequate information from Government officials being a major one.
“The ownership nexus also does affect the coverage of land and property rights, when say Governments and other powerful individuals stand in the way that it becomes difficult to investigate and access information to write a well balanced story.
Mr Mackay Rigava of the United Nations Economic Forum for Africa, Uneca, called for capacity building for journalists and other media personnel, saying that the land narrative was a delicate issue that needed a full appreciation of the subject to be able to communicate the concerns at hand.
Organised by Uneca, the conference on land policy in Africa held in Ethiopia last week, was aimed at deepening capacity for land policy development and implementation with specific focus on emerging issues and African Union commitments as well as the contribution of the youth towards economic issues.