The final readings of our class presented a lot of food for thought and tied in many of the concepts that we’ve learned throughout the semester. I was especially interested in the readings in “Accountability through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Opinion.”
I enjoyed Mary Myers’article “Well-Informed Journalists Make Well-Informed Citizens…” on journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mention of the practice of coupage, when journalists being paid off to print specific stories, is a reminder of how difficult it can be to escape the heavy-handed propaganda messages in a developing country, not just from the government but other parties including warlords and church leaders. But the success of Radio Okapi as an independent voice and a valuable foil to Radio-Télévision Nationale Congolaise could be a small but important sign that the tides are changing.
The strategy of entertainment-education, mentioned in last week’s Family Tree reading written by Waisbord, comes up again in Myers’ article. The NGO Search for Common Ground has created radio soap operas and other formats to spread messages of good governance which have been well-received by millions of local citizens. As the Waisbord article mentions, there are doubts about the effectiveness of entertainment-education. So I’m curious to know if there are long-term and measurable effects of this entertainment-education campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Communication Technologies for Accountability article presents some stimulating points on the flow of information from the state to the citizens. The author does acknowledge that research on Western countries heavily influences the article due, in part, to a lack of comprehensive studies on developing countries and refers to the “limited scope” of the article. But, in spite of this, I think there are some substantial ideas that were presented. I think that there is potential for the convergence of ICT with traditional media to grow, over time, to become an effective tool for accountability.