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Op-Ed

How foreign Aid fuels African Media’s payola problem

To build strong communities, Africans need news they can trust. To deliver it, journalists need to come by their funding honestly.

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Photo - AFP

At a recent press conference a small group of Liberian journalists made a courageous admission: they confessed they were all “on the take.” To supplement salaries as low as $40 a month, the journalists said they often rely on payments from the very people they write about.

The revelation confirmed a dirty secret of African journalism: reporters earn most of their income from payments by their sources. And the dirtiest secret of all is that the international aid community is among the most prolific payers.

Development agencies fork out vast sums to sway African journalists. While outright bribery is rare, insidious payment is rampant. Many schemes – from “transport” refunds that far exceed reporters’ travel costs to exorbitant per diems – come with a tacit understanding that coverage will be positive.

Aid groups insist that payments are not inducements in reality, poorly remunerated journalists cannot easily tell the difference. For media bosses, bribery rationalises costs: as long as they publish, sources will foot the bill.

Although it is difficult to know for certain what percentage of media budgets derive from unethical payments, in Liberia, where I do most of my work, anecdotal evidence suggests it is a majority of reporters’ pay. For example, two leading media companies told me that they have not paid their staff for at least a year, yet they continue to publish with no noticeable change in output.

The implications of this journalistic business model are profound. For starters, stories are typically poorly written, based on a single source, and inspired by a press conference or press release, rather than a thorough and objective assessment of issues affecting readers. Journalism as a career is also debased, and most top university graduates avoid the profession entirely. Ironically, aid agencies’ efforts to improve African media have only exacerbated the problem. That’s because today, a typical journalist in Africa is a professional workshop attendee.

NGOs from every sector “train” journalists in their subject matter, often with content conceived in Western capitals by people with no experience in journalism or in the target countries. Journalists go from workshop to workshop, turning up long enough to collect their per diems and write a puff piece.

This approach is as costly as it is regrettable. In one African country, a media-development organization with which I have worked spent more than $1 million of taxpayer money to produce a one-hour program on governance, which was then aired on community radio, its content so sanitized to appease local officials that few people tuned in. But even more problematic was the distortion to the domestic media market. To produce the program, the NGO recruited ten top journalists from established outlets and paid them as much as ten times their normal salary. Once the project was over, most of the journalists quit their old jobs in search of better pay in the aid and government sectors.

From my experience, most African journalists know how to report a well-sourced story. What they lack are the resources to put this knowledge to use. The deficiencies of African media are best addressed as a business challenge, not a training problem. Some media organizations already recognize this. In Ghana, Joy FM owner Kwasi Twum told me that he pays his staff “enough for a car and a mortgage,” and the station has been widely credited with helping lift the standard of journalism in the country.

In the past, Nigerian journalist Dele Olojede lured top graduates in business, medicine, and law to the profession with higher wages and an inspiring mission. In 2011, journalists whom he mentored founded Premium Times which has earned a reputation as an impartial political watchdog. Liberia’s Front Page Africa has played a similar role, as has the Daily maverick in South Africa.

To make further progress, African news outlets should emulate their counterparts in advanced economies by developing sustainable revenue streams though e-commerce, subscriptions, sponsored content, supplements, and multimedia. This is where donors can be helpful: rather than host useless trainings, they should enable innovation by pairing African media outlets with experts in business, technology, and advertising.

In particular, tech companies should help media organizations take advantage of platform innovations and find opportunities to monetize diaspora audiences. Donors have already shown that they can pursue development priorities while also making smart investments in media. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, funds health-related reporting at South Africa’s Mail and Guardian and at Premium Times. Aid has also been key to sustaining the organization I lead, News Narratives which uses funding from governments and foundations to support independent local media. Reporting we supported helped bring about a ban on female genital mutilation and uncovered numerous cases of corruption and mismanagement.

As these and other efforts demonstrate, supporting independent media is among the most important investments donors can make in Africa’s future. But support should never come with strings attached. To build strong communities, Africans need news they can trust. To deliver it, journalists need to come by their funding honestly.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central’s editorial stance.


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Op-Ed

First 100 days in office, what’s in it? (Opinion)

We must not allow ourselves to be distracted or caught up in the noise around the first 100 days.

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The first 100 days

Recently, Nigerians have been pulling out scorecards and more to try and calculate the performances of their governors and the president after their first 100 days in office. Newspaper headlines had these elected officials and those who worked for them sharing achievements of their first 100 days. 

But why and when did the first 100 days become any kind of benchmark? Many of us don’t even know the history behind the concept of the first 100 days. So let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. 

How it started?

The concept is believed to have its roots in France, where “Cent Jours” or hundred days, refers to the period of time in 1815 when Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris from exile and his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. 

It became a key benchmark in America during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt became president in 1932, taking leadership of an America that was extremely battered and was attempting to crawl out of the Great Depression, which followed the crash of the stock market in October 1929. 

Jide Sanwo-Olu also celebrates first 100 days in Office
A cut-out portrait of Nigeria’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu (L), and a portrait of his running mate, Obafemi Hamzat, are displayed along a road on March 6, 2019, in the Ikoyi district of the country’s largest city. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Pay Attention: 189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks

He campaigned and won on the idea of a “new deal” for Americans that would see them through and past the hard times. Now, in order to tackle the issues facing the American economy at the time, he pushed through over a dozen pieces of major legislation during the first 3 months of his tenure. The first measures of the New Deal are referred to as the first 100 days. 

So therein lies the historical background of the first 100 days. But should it still apply in the 21st century? Can the first 100 days really show you the direction and possible outcome of any administration? Those are the questions we must answer individually as citizens. However, the way and manner the first 100 days is bandied about in Nigeria, simply makes you wonder what the big deal is. 

First 100 days records in Nigeria

Let’s start with President Muhammadu Buhari. According to his party, his second term’s first 100 days have gone well. The National Chairman of the APC said appointing ministers earlier than he did in 2015, having the 2020 budget prepared, and even engaging various professional groups have been the achievements of the first 100 days.

In Lagos, Governor Jide Sanwo-olu said the executive order declaring an emergency on traffic management and transportation and rehabilitation of atrial roads were achievements in his first 100 days.

In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde, listed some of his achievements to be cancellation of all levies paid in Oyo public schools, going to Benin Republic for collaborations in the agribusiness sector and also having a 27 year-old commissioner. 

Buhari's First 100 days
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari (C) looks on during the African Union summit at the palais des Congres in Niamey, on July 7, 2019. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

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Each of these gentlemen claim more achievements in their first 100 days, but should we keep the first 100 days as a benchmark along the timeline of an administration?

The 100 days – is it enough?

As citizens of Nigeria and residents of various states, what do we think the first 100 days can tell us about any administration? 

Oftentimes, it appears there is a race to rack up “achievements” or grand gestures on the way to the first 100 days, but what happens after that? Using about 3 months to judge administrations that have 48 months to fulfill their mandate seems a bit pedestrian. 

We must not allow ourselves to be distracted or caught up in the noise around the first 100 days. Governance is a continuous journey, yes, with milestones along the way. But with the way we have elected officials holding programs, writing speeches, etc on their first 100 days, one would think it was more than that. 

The bar in Nigeria many would say has been set low, some would even argue that the bar is underground at this point. What we as citizens need to realize is that the bar is wherever we want it to. When we start to demand better, make those seeking our vote accountable to their campaign promises, and hand out consequences when they don’t meet our expectations, the bar will rise. 

And when the bar rises, we’ll find that the first 100 days loses some of the glamour around it.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

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Op-Ed

Wanna meet your match? 5 best makeup tips to keep you winning

Here are some recommendations that could come in handy when you go makeup shopping, unsupervised

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Wanna Meet Your match? Use These Unbeatable Tips | News Central TV
Photo credit: House of Tara International

One of the most difficult things for women when getting their makeup (when there are no makeup tips) done by themselves is getting their foundation shades right.

Most times, the shade appears correct but the texture is all wrong, leaving them with a ‘cakey’ finish or simply a dripping hot mess! Sometimes, it oxidizes during the day and leaves an ashy shade.

It’s almost like we never win! Well, we spoke to some makeup artists to get tips that would save you from this recurring facial misadventure.

5 Best Makeup Tips

Here are some recommendations that could come in handy when you go makeup shopping, unsupervised.

1. Know your skin type

Wanna Meet Your match? Use These Unbeatable Tips | News Central TV
Photo credit: House of Tara

Sometimes, your skin can be oily, dry or a combination of both. Whilst knowing your skin type will not automatically help you pick your right shade, it would help you know the right foundation type for you.

To narrow down your options:

  • Choose cream or stick foundation if you have dry skin
  • Choose a matte finish or oil-free liquid or powder foundation if you have oily skin.
  • Choose a powder foundation if you have combination skin
  • Choose a foundation that offers full or medium coverage if you have an uneven complexion and want to cover most of your skin

2. Test under natural light

Find a door or window to see how the foundation holds up in daylight. Sometimes, what you see isn’t always what you get.

3. Test before buying

Wanna Meet Your match? Use These Unbeatable Tips | News Central TV
Photo credit: House of Tara

Choose the foundation shade that looks closest to your skin tone. Test by swathing on your jawline (it is the closest to your natural tone and would show you better how the foundation matches against your neck).

The idea here is to find one that blends in perfectly, not one that you can easily see.

The best foundation will disappear into your skin and provide an even canvas for your other makeup application.

4. If it’s broken (or wrong), fix it – of the very essential makeup tips

Some of us have multiple bottles of wrong shades of foundation- too light or too dark. Don’t throw them away because you now know the shade is wrong. Fix it and use it!

When it is too light, customize to get your right shade by mixing the foundation with a darker shade of concealer, foundation or powder.

When it is too dark, mix with a lighter shade.

5. Choose a Beauty Store that has artists or beauty experts

They would help you narrow down your options and even teach you some cool tricks.

Some other helpful makeup tips:

  • Change makeup sponges regularly if you use them to apply foundation because they can harbour germs and bacteria.
  • Always remove makeup and apply moisturizer before bed. Your skin will repair itself when you sleep.
Wanna Meet Your match? Use These Unbeatable Tips | News Central TV
Photo credit: House of Tara

There are over 21 shades of foundation and 15 shades of powder to choose between.

Hopefully, with our tips and tricks, you would find your match in this mix and maze of shades.

Now you never have to use your face as a permanent testing ground. Find your match and make your move.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

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Op-Ed

Nigeria’s economy: Preview of the week ahead

This week’s major risk event will be Thursday’s annual meeting at Wyoming where leaders from major central banks gather

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Nigeria's economy: Preview of the week ahead | News Central TV
(File photo)

Lingering concerns over a global recession will continue influencing market sentiment in the week ahead, with world equities, emerging markets and riskier currencies in the direct firing line.

Although treasury yields are recovering from record lows, the movements in bond markets are poised to be closely monitored by investors.

In Nigeria, there will be a strong focus on the second-quarter GDP report which should provide fresh insight into the health of the Nigerian economy.

A disappointing figure is seen fuelling expectations over the Central Bank of Nigeria cutting interest rates. Markets are predicting growth of 1.8% during the second quarter of 2019.

READ: Will oil prices help or harm Nigeria’s economy in Q3?

Across the Atlantic, Dollar traders will be closely looking at July’s FOMC minutes for clues on the future pace of rate cuts. Market expectations over a September rate should rise if the minutes are presented with a dovish touch.

However, some are still questioning whether the Fed will move forward with further rate cuts given how US retail sales grew 0.7% in July and the latest job report suggested moderate growth. 

This week’s major risk event will be Thursday’s annual meeting at Wyoming where leaders from major central banks gather. If major central banks express a readiness to cut interest rates further and implement new quantitative easing programs, the mood across markets has the potential to improve.

READ: Gold: Positioned to thrive in low-interest-rate environment

Appetite towards Gold will be influenced by trade developments, the Dollar’s valuation and global growth concerns. The precious metal could still hit $1550 once bulls can secure control above $1530.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

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