By Emeka Umejei
The role of the media in the shifting geopolitical landscape will
dominate discussions at the workshop on media and accountability in the
BRICS at the Highway Africa conference, said Herman Wasserman, Deputy Head of the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media studies and Chair of the session.
The rise of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South
Africa) on the global stage has led to new flows of communication and media
capital, said Wasserman.
“We have to ask questions around what this means for media systems and for
political economy of the media,” he said.  He emphasised that the
conference theme of accountability makes it imperative to ask “how these
shifts will influences notions of media capital”.
China has recently unleashed its soft power on the African continent with
extensive investments in the media and establishment of Chinese media
outfits such as China Central Television (CCTV), Xinhua news agency, and
China daily newspaper. Most recently, a Chinese syndicate was part of the
consortium set to become new owners of Independent News & Media. Wasserman said this development has given vent to debates around what China’s
influence in Africa would mean for the media system on the continent.
“We also talk about what to be expected of the media and its role to keep
government accountable and how the media itself will be accountable to the
public,” said Wasserman.