The Listening Post

The challenge of reporting on Boko Haram

Why has the media struggled to tell the story of Nigeria’s mass abductions?

Earlier this month, hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram, an armed group fighting for a state governed by sharia law. While there’s no question that this is a major news story, the media coverage has been patchy.

First, there is the challenge for the reporters on the ground. Access to Nigeria’s northeast is fraught with logistical and security concerns. Boko Haram’s name translates as “Western education is forbidden”, and foreign media workers present in the area would run the risk of incurring their anger. The lack of coverage may also be due to the Nigerian government itself. President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to crush Boko Haram – a movement thought to be responsible for more than 1,500 deaths already this year – and too much media attention given to the group’s activities could undermine the president’s credibility.

Helping us to explain how and why the media has struggled with this story are: Mustapha Mohamed, senior reporter for AIT; Comfort Ero, Africa Programme Director for the International Crisis Group; African affairs specialist Ayo Johnson; and freelance journalist Andrew Walker.

In other media news this week: While court proceedings against Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt continue, the Qatar-funded network hits back with a $150m lawsuit; dissident journalists and bloggers are arrested in Ethiopia, accused of sowing instability; and Turkey deports another foreign journalist, this time an Azerbaijani who had reported on human rights issues in both Turkey and his home country.

Our feature this week is a look at one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, the Philippines. This is a country where media workers can make powerful enemies and all too often pay the ultimate price. The perpetrators of media murders are rarely brought to justice, as with the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in which 34 journalists were among the 58 people killed. The killing of Rubylita Garcia in April has brought the story back into our spotlight – the Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi reports.

Our Web Video of the Week is a clever combination of animation and live action that pits two teams in a death match fought with guns and other fantastical hardware that spring to life from simple wall drawings. “Chalk Warfare 3.0” is clearly inspired by the movies and video games that its 17-year-old creators – Sam Wickert and Eric Leigh of South Carolina’s “So Krispy Media” – are undoubtedly immersed in. It has already racked up more than two million hits and it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “draw your weapons!”


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Click here for more Listening Post.