Niger





Niger

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of the Niger
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 10,075,511
Language(s): French, Hausa, Djerma
Literacy rate: 13.6%

The principle of a free press in Niger was established by a 1997 law that states "the press and audio-visual media, as well as broadcasting and printing, are free; access to information is the citizen's inalienable right." In practice the authorities remain a significant obstacle and government officials are often behind attempts to mute Niger's privately owned newspapers, most of which are less than a decade old.

Most private newspapers are weekly publications. Low advertising revenue and small circulations are common factors prohibiting daily publication. There is a state-owned French-language daily, La Sahel, which has a daily circulation of about 5,000.

Among the newspapers that have been publishing since the early 1990s, the weekly Anfani stands out. Its editor, Grémah Boucar, has been imprisoned nine times as of June 2001, yet Anfani, with its circulation of about 3,000, remains committed to impartial and critical reporting. Other weeklies include Le Républicain, which also is distributed in France and the United States, the satirical Canard Dimanche and Le Démocrate. In all there are about 15 privately owned newspapers. Most newspapers are tabloid size and run eight pages. There is a state-owned news agency, Agence Nigérienne de Presse (ANP), founded in 1987.

Niger's private newspaper sector suffers from inadequate resources and its journalists receive poor training. Many newspapers favor analysis over hard news and there is a dearth of investigative journalism. The lack of investigative journalism can be tied to the fear of repercussions from the authorities. With the exception newspapers such as Anfani and Le Républicain, journalists' salaries often are not paid. In many cases, this leads to journalists taking bribes from government officials to write damaging articles about political rivals.

Mounting corruption, widespread poverty, and a low literacy rate—only 23 percent of men over the age of 15 and just 8 percent of women—are the prime reasons for the precarious position of Niger's privately owned newspapers.

Bibliography

Boluvi, Guy-Michel. "Media Report: Niger." Research and Technology Exchange Group, Partners for Media in Africa, (January 2001). Available from http://www.gret.org/mediapartner/uk2/ressource/edm/pdf/niger.pdf .

International Journalists' Federation. "Mali Press: Overview," 2001. Available from http://www.ijnet.org/Profile/Africa/Niger/media.html .

International Press Institute. 2001 World Press Freedom Review. Available from http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/niger.htm .

Neville, Philip. Publishing against the odds. In World Press Review, 42, no. 11 (2000): 16-7.

"Niger." Committee to Protect Journalists, Africa 2001. Available from http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/africa01/niger.html2 .

"Niger, The Press." In The Europa World Yearbook 2000, 2, no. 41, 2755. London: Europa Publications, 2001.

Denis Fitzgerald

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