Elections and the Media in Post-Conflict Africa
Votes and Voices for Peace?
Over the past ten years, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo and Rwanda all organized pluralist elections in a post conflict context, having experienced an armed conflict which either interrupted or prevented democratization processes. These polls were organized with the support of the international community, which viewed them as a crucial step in the peace-building process. The local media's role throughout was supposed to be to ensure that an electoral process is actually 'free and fair' - a role that becomes even more crucial in countries where the media have previously being perceived as warmongers or peace-builders in the conflicts.
Giving a voice to African journalists and analysing the work they have been publishing or broadcasting during these elections, African media specialist Marie-Soleil Frere explores if and how the local media fulfilled their duties. In doing so, the book reveals journalists' professional challenges at a time when much is expected from the media, as well as the intense political pressure faced that can make their work particularly difficult.
Insightful and comprehensive, Elections and the Media in Post-Conflict Africa underlines both the importance and the fragility of the role of the media in a democratic system.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'There is simply no equivalent volume and no other author with a similar in-depth knowledge of the minutiae of Africa's media landscape. Frere provides the reader with a broad and clear expose, in which she shines an uncompromising light on the theory and practice of the role of the media in democratic and post-conflict transitions. Building on years of participatory fieldwork in six Central African countries, she highlights with compassion the systemic consequences of the physical vulnerability and material precariousness of African journalists. A real eye-opener!' - Pierre Englebert, Pomona College
'This is a masterpiece of research, covering a range of countries where published knowledge in English is in very short supply. It operates from a credible theoretical understanding of elections as moments in transitions, and a sophisticated analysis of where media fits in. The insights are always sympathetic of the cause of journalism in democratisation, without being apologetic for the many abuses when the media is controlled by vested interests with instrumentalist views about power that serve to overwhelm editorial independence and ethics. While the Central African countries are all unique, the author has extracted common threads out her meticulous documentation of each case, and she extrapolates issues that are relevant to media role in elections in many other countries as well.' - Prof Guy Berger, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa
'The empirical rigour and analytical depth applied to the subject of how African media and journalists operate in challenging times, and how they fulfill or fail to fulfill their roles in advancing democracy, are remarkable. This may not be a new subject, but Frere's is certainly a fresh and authentic approach to it. Impressive.' - Monica B. Chibita, Department of Mass Communication, Makerere University, Kampala
'The interest of this book lies in its powerful rendering of a wide range of practices and experiences, drawing on an in-depth knowledge of journalism practice in Africa and showing sensitivity to the political and social context acquired through much field research.' - Patrick Quantin, Politique africaine
'Drawing on extensive field research and interviews, the author shows how, day by day, journalists have tried to do their job in all its most noble but also most delicate and difficult aspects through periods of great tension. (...) This work will be relevant far beyond the countries at stake, and illustrates the reality of democracy in Africa.' - Annie Lenoble-Bart, NetSuds
'Marie-Soleil Frere's book Elections and the Media in Post-conflict Africa: Votes and Voices for Peace? is an impressive concrete analysis with theoretical implications for the relationship between media and democracy, and media and the forging of peace.' - Professor Helge Ronning, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo
'Marie-Soleil Frere is the world's leading expert on media and democratization in post-conflict Africa. Her book presents rock-solid scholarship, a militant's fervour and an insider's story of how elections and media are transforming French-speaking Africa's political landscape. Policy-makers and academics will welcome the pragmatism of Frere's analysis. African journalists and grassroots activists will appreciate the empathy she conveys for the risks they face in carrying out their profession. Detailed but readable, this is the only book in English that addresses these political fundamentals.' - Theodore Trefon, senior researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, author of Congo Masquerade.