Jornalism VS Content Production in Angolan Context

The discussion about the cohabitation borders between professional jornalism and the other protagonists that work with information, either it being in conventional media or in the different projects and platforms on the internet, is growing by the day.

There are even more enthusiastic voices who understand that reference Angolan journalism is already experiencing a situation of isolation in the face of this avalanche of young communicators who are spawning every day like mushrooms on social media with the editing of more or less short videos, but not only that.

Call them content producers, call them digital influencers, call them what you want to because names aren’t what’s missing, but don’t mistake it with jornalism in itself. Despite the similarities that each activities share, they are not jornalists. The worst part is that, in official speech, we’ve began to treat everything as if it were the same, to the point of having, in public media bodies, administrators for the content area. And then information/jornalism is just content for entertainment, for marketing, educational spaces and so on, in a true Olivier Salad.

Just to remember, the organizational model that was in force, and I believe is still in force, in several radio and television stations was always based on the existence of two distinct departments: one for information/journalism and the other for programming, where all the contents that fill the grids. This whole story about turning jornalism into just another undifferentiated content doesn’t end here. So, it’s better to start from the beginning: from the concepts and the definitions. It reminds us of that very well-known story about the chicken and the egg, in which the question is to find out who came first. To this day, as far as we think we know, allow me to make this humorous reference, there is still no final judgment on this chicken and egg “maka”.

In this case, from a more historical point of view, things are much simpler when it comes to establishing the facts.

Therefore, seems to be little doubt in relation to the precedence of journalism over its new and dynamic competitors who are currently delivering content for all tastes and styles, seeking to gain audiences by attracting the famous likes and their respective followers. It’s a race for popularity, certainly thinking about earning some money, which is what is most needed in the pockets of Angolans, especially if this “kumbú” is in euros or dollars. Even for legal reasons, starting from the demand of a work register booklet issued by a public entity, the exercise of journalism cannot be in the same category where said contents and their producers fit. At stake are, first of all, the responsibilities, between rights and duties, that the exercise of the activity implies, both on the part of its professionals and on the part of the organizations.

These are responsibilities that have been increasing as the result of the entry into the scene, and in strength, of the digital space through the Internet as an environment that is becoming dominant for those who want to inform and for those who want to be informed.

In Angola, citizens’ access to the Internet still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of national coverage and individual access. However, we can no longer ignore the strength of thecommunication produced through digital media. It’s certain that this access is increasing, despite all the economic difficulties faced by ordinary citizens, which condition this type of consumption, that still has an extremely high price for a country faced with worrying poverty rates and with unflattering trends regarding the future.

It’s having for background the growing influence of the Internet/Social Networks in Angola and the extraordinary increase in information available from the most diverse sources, the importance of the role of the journalist among us has also been increasing, as is the case in other geographical contexts.

In many cases, it’s the unfair and dishonest competition that ends up being sponsored by anonymous money that circulates behind the scenes in politics and in business.

A good part of this most worrying content has to do with politically motivated disinformation, created from “laboratories” which, in the case of Angola, are not even that hard to identify.

In theory, from a more conceptual point of view, Angolan journalism has everything it needs to assert its qualitative superiority regarding its competitors by simply following the script of the journalistic information itself as defined in the manuals, with the answer to what, the who, the where, the when, the how and the why.

This is the base of the journalistic information that is rarely taken into consideration.

Angolan journalists continue to offer the public a “product” that, in general, hardly deepens or contextualizes the reported facts.

Actually, the problem begins even earlier with the identification/selection of the subjects themselves which then will shake the news and television news.

At the origin of this unsatisfactory performance of the journalism that is being conducted in Angola is, certainly, the lack of independence and editorial freedom that continue to make a home in these parts. This, to a substantial extent, explains the officious nature of the journalism that is practiced in the public sector of the Angolan media, which continues to be dominant, and it is, therefore, understandable that the spotlight of criticism is pointed at it. There continues to be too much turbulence in the Angolan media navigation, when it should already be flying calmly and at cruising speed, without the need to make emergency landings as continues to happen, as happened very recently with the protest vote that UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) intended to approve in Parliament against the performance of the public media for violating the stipulations of the Constitutional Law in its article 17, which states that all parties have the right to impartial treatment by state radio and television. An initiative that, as expected, didn’t go forward because the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) majority didn’t allow it to happen, rejecting it to limit the project to the Opposition’s biggest party.

Regardless, and no matter how much external conditions affect the final product, we believe that the stakes in the quality of journalism are in the hands of those who make it, because without good and daring journalists we cannot reach a different panorama. The lack of professionalism and quality is still one of the challenges that has to be overcome.

Yes. Yes, it has.

In the current conditions, with as its biggest competitor a new and strange form of “journalism” that was born from social media more as a fragmented political project than anything else, the challenge is even greater and more urgent in the face of such unfair competition, which does not even need to be of getting out of bed to write big stories and carry out even bigger and deeper journalistic investigations.

Translation:  Mariana Borges

by Reginaldo Silva
A ler | 4 April 2024 | Angolan, Content Production, Jornalism, media