Online Newspapers Can Play Important Role in African Conflicts

By Linda Kruusmagi and Sara Herlitz, East Cape News, 15 September 2000

Grahamstown—Online newspapers and other publications could play an important role in spreading non-censured information from African conflict areas, said Sierra Leone editor Kingsley Lington at the Highway Africa 2000 Conference yesterday.

Lington, the editor-in-chief at the Concord Times in Sierra Leone, was speaking during a seminar about conflict and online media.

When asked how he could continue being a journalist in spite of the difficult situation in Sierra Leone and still even make jokes about it, he replied: We have been shocked to the state of unshockability. He said that online media was the most important source of information for people from Sierra Leone who had fled the country.

However, he said that very few people in Sierra Leone had access to the new information technology and that it was only the most powerful class that was connected to the internet.

You can publish your story but no one can read it, said Lington.

And of course the government first has to approve your internet access.

He said that working with online publications in Sierra Leone was like working for charity.

I haven't got one single penny for all my work, he said with a smile.

Mario Paiva, a freelance journalist from Angola, said that only one out of every five independent media companies in Angola had a website.

There are a lot of obstacles against the internet among the media people. We have to change that attitude.

He said that there was no true existence of online journalism in Angola.

This is a new thing and there are lots of opportunities. But there needs to be a change in the minds of the government and the people.

He said that in Angola there were several difficulties getting licences for the internet as one had to go through governmental telecommunications that was still very regulated.

The government has access to internet and that way they have a better position, he said.