Prof. Admire Mare, Head of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg
Prof. Admire Mare, Head of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg
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Newspapers will remain on stands despite new media — Communications expert

The Head of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Admire Mare, has said despite the phenomenal proliferation of internet news platforms, newspapers will remain in circulation in Africa for many years. 

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“This is because some readers still prefer the traditional way of accessing news directly from hardcopy newspapers,” he explained. Further, Prof. Mare said newspapers would be in greater demand if they featured more local news content, closer to the hearts of the readers.

Prof. Mare was speaking to the Daily Graphic in an exclusive interview last Friday at the just-ended Third African Media Convention (AMC) in Accra. “As a reader, I must see myself in the story or very close to the story,” he said.

For instance, Prof. Mare said there was no point carrying a story prominently on how the police shot and killed a fleeing suspect in Guatemala, for readers in Accra who would be happier with stories from their domain.
 

Survival

To survive the stiff competition in the contemporary global media industry, he said, there was the need for public media houses to change their funding models to involve the private sector on a more vigorous scale.  

Prof. Mare said the newspapers could attract more readers and advertisements through innovations in their news packages. He cited the example of some South African newspaper houses that were now publishing supplementary news in the vernacular, saying that was paying off significantly.
                     

Artificial Intelligence

The professor touched on artificial intelligence (AI) and said Africa must be part of the conversation to build its own language and cultural modules for the rapidly emerging AI order.

“We are building the future and so if we are not part of the AI conversation then it means nothing to us,” he maintained. Prof. Mare said Africa needed more human media capital to ensure the continent was not only fed with foreign news all the time.

Further, he insisted it was only through the language of the ordinary man that the culture of the people could be preserved. “So, we need the language of the African in AI,” he added.

Prof. Mare mentioned Ghana and Kenya as countries doing well in providing the public with local news through the mass media and urged other countries to emulate their examples.

The three-day AMC was on the theme: “Enhancing freedom, innovation and environmental sustainability in a dynamic media landscape” and was attended by about 1,000 journalists from 40 countries in Africa.

The annual event is supported by African media stakeholders to reflect on the fundamental role of journalism on the continent, celebrate essential media freedoms and promote access to information, the safety of journalists and media viability in member states of the African Union.

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