Land rights contain interesting stories that should be told

Thomson Reuters editor property rights and deputy editor Astryd Zweynert says that through a network of journalists African media can change the scale of coverage of land rights.
“At Thomson Reuters, we have a global network of journalists with over 800 land rights stories so far published. This shows how media can change the narratives of land rights reporting.
“In as far as land rights issues are concerned governments on the continent have a lot of issues to answer,” she said.
Omidyar Network Property Rights Initiative’s Yuliya Panfil said land and property rights lack the right narrative. Hence the need to change the current status.
“It’s time to change the land narrative from focusing on conflict of natural resources and evictions to holistic narratives with land rights at the centre of development, socio-economic effects and women rights,” she said.
Panfil expressed worry that high profile coverage of land rights issues has decreased from 24percent—of stories in tier one—to 16 percent.
She said while a lot of stories get published not many of them get republished on social media.
“Land rights stories are largely being published in international publications and many of these land rights stories go viral,” she pointed out.
Bukola Adebayo, a journalist with the Punch in Nigeria and 2016 Pulitzer Centre grantee said funding and investing in news media is not the only challenge that African media and journalists face in covering land rights issues. Human interest stories on land issues are also important.
“There is need to innovate ways of telling land stories in Africa that can capture more audience through the use of new media,” said Ms Adebayo.
She said there is a plethora of obstacles that prevent good coverage of Africa, such strict media laws, culture and editors lack of interest in land issues.
“However, these challenges should not slow journalists down in covering land rights issues. These days, there is social media which journalists can use to cover land rights issues because the impact of the land story is huge,” she said.