Activity 1.1 - Understanding the media landscape in your country

Course: 2018 Science Communication Skills for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy
Book: Activity 1.1 - Understanding the media landscape in your country
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Date: Thursday, 2 December 2021, 11:20 AM

1 - Introduction

By continually focussing on a non-existent war, the media divert public attention from the important day-to-day social, economic and environmental realities of the Nile Basin.

In this editorial piece  a group of researchers points at the limits of the “water war frame”:

  • it oversimplifies complex contexts and scenarios, by reducing conflicts to one simple cause and affirming a causal link between resources scarcity and conflicts, a link which is highly debated in the scientific literature

  • it dwarfs or blocks out other narratives and facts, such as those related to inequalities in water distribution within countries or ongoing processes of negotiations and cooperation between parties

  • it securitises water issues, narrowing down the space for freedom of expression and research on these topics.  

This is why, researchers need to work with the media to draw public attention to these realities by communicating their research findings. By continually drawing public attention to evidence from their studies, researchers can change the widespread view held by some people that the Nile is a source of conflict rather than cooperation. 

It is essential to understand how the media is reporting issues relating to the Nile Basin. 

What are they including? What are they excluding? Being aware of these ‘frames’ will help you to be more confident and effective when dealing with the media. 

2 - Identifying frames activity

Read the abstract for the following study and list the most important frames the study identified for coverage of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

3 - Most common frames

As you can see, the media actively frames topics according to editorial priorities; political inclinations; what they perceive will sell papers; and other factors. Understanding how the media frames topics in your own context will help you develop a better communication strategy.