An 8 Step Plan to Traveling Healthy Abroad

A vacation overseas is an exciting event. Exotic locations can mean a greater risk for potential health problems and a larger chance of not finding adequate medical services.

Plan your travel health as carefully as your travel itinerary with the Fox News Channel’s Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld suggested 8 Tips for Travel that will ensure a safe, happy and healthy vacation.

1. Have updated shots.

The CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel has information on suggested immunizations for every country you may be planning to travel. They also have suggested precautions for a healthy trip.

2. Do not brush your teeth with tap water.

Local water sometimes carries parasites and bacteria that can make a non-local ill. For that reason, don’t brush with tap water use bottled water instead. In lieu of bottled water, boiling local tap water for a at least 1 minute will kill any diseases that could cause illness.

3. Peel fruits and vegetables, don’t eat them raw with the skin.

Like local water, food can also carry disease for the traveler. The CDC recommends not eating food purchased from street vendors. Dr. Rosenfeld suggests peeling fresh fruits and vegetables, not eating the raw skin. Make sure any food you eat is fully cooked.

4. Take additional prescription medication with you.

There is nothing worse than running out of needed medication while on vacation. Prepare for the unexpected by taking more medication with you than the number of days you actually expect to travel. Delays and the unexpected can happen, so be prepared.

5. Create a travel first aid kit.

Create one or two first aid kits. Why two kits? One that you keep in your suitcase and the other to keep on your person. In the suitcase include anti-motion, anti-diarrheal medications and a mild laxative. A package of preferred decongestant and antihistamine should be included with 1% hydro cortisone and anti-fungal creams. In your personal kit keep latex gloves, band aids, moleskin for blisters and antibiotic cream. Anti-inflammatory medicine of your choice and throat lozenges are important as well.

6. Make a travel insurance investment.

Because no one has a crystal ball, it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance so an anticipated trip isn’t a disappointment financially as well as emotionally when something goes wrong.

7. No swimming in lakes or ponds.

Parasitic and bacterial diseases can exist in lakes and ponds as they can in local drinking water. Avoid swimming in still bodies of water. Swimming in the ocean or in chlorinated swimming pools is okay. But swimming in a local river should be avoided.

8. Prepare for mosquitoes.

Make sure you pack sunscreen and insect repellent. Repellent should include DEET in a 20-50% concentration which is acceptable for children over 2 months and adults according to the CDC. Apply your sunscreen first then spray the repellent on your body and clothing. Wear long sleeves and pants when possible to avoid mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. Mosquitoes that transmit malaria are more active at dusk and again at dawn. Those that bite during the day tend to carry dengue fever.

If an injury or unexpected illness hits a member of your traveling party, seek help from one or more organizations that specialize in this type of situation. The International Society of Travel Medicine and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene both have websites and can give you information on clinics in your area. MEDEX at http://www.medexassist.com is another organization referenced on the CDC website that is worth checking into.

So be prepared and travel healthy. Enjoy your vacation with no anxiety because you know you’ve already prepared for the worst. And of course, if you are prepared, the worst will never happen.

Booming: Television News Channels in India

News programmes have suddenly become hot property and are vying for attention with other popular programmes telecast in different channels. All major television broadcasters are including at least one news channel to their bouquet. The biggest headache for launching a satellite channel is programme software for round the clock. In this juncture, newsgathering is a major task for the 24-hour news channels. To cater this task, the emerging electronic channels have always made an attempt to cover all the incidents irrespective of position, location and time. These channels not only revolutionized the concept of news on Indian television but also changed the news formats. Before 1990s, Doordarshan had monopolized newscast on Indian television and also turned the news programs into a dowdy exercise. Now the private channels made the news an essential commodity like food, cloth and shelter. The strong point of all today’s news bulletins is their topicality, objectivity, glossy editing and high-quality visuals. News has traveled a long way from the DD era. From Local events to International events, breaking news to news analysis, television soap to page3 news, every happening comes under purview of news. In this article, we have covered some significant changes in news broadcasting in India before and after the Gulf War.

Indian Television – Flash Back

Television in India is undergoing significant changes in the current liberalized environment. To understand these changes, one needs to have some brief idea of the road covered by the television channels so far. The journey started as an experimental basis with a financial grant from UNESCO in 15th September 1959. The makeshift studio at Akashvani Bhavan in New Delhi was chosen for location of the experiment. The experiment started with one-hour program, broadcast twice a week, on community health, citizen rights, education and traffic sense etc. As far as news is concerned, it was launched exactly six years after the inception of television broadcasting. Daily one-hour program with a news bulletin was served to the Indian viewers. But one major drawback of television was that you could not enjoy the original colour of the objects because of black and white transmission. First multi-color programme was the Prime Minister’s address to the nation from Red Fort in Delhi on India’s 35th Independence Day. In the same day, DD National channel was launched. The aim of launching the National channel is nurturing national integration, and inculcating a sense of pride in Indians. Indian viewers also enjoyed the colored version of the Asian Games hosted by New Delhi in their drawing room. The coverage of major events and different occasions lend a big hand behind the infiltration of television signals to the nook and corners of the subcontinent. Indian Government had taken all possible steps to expand the television broadcasting demographically and geographically. In 1983 television signals were available to just 28% of the population, this had doubled by the end of 1985 and by 1990 over 90% of the population had access to television signals. In 1984, DD Metro channel was added to provide an exclusive entertainment for the urban viewers. In the beginning, this channel was confined to metropolitan cities.
As a public broadcaster, Doordarshan presented the news in naturalized manner. All controversial issues were pushed under the carpet. The ruling government had a strong hold on the television broadcasting. Doordarshan news bulletins were unable to provide the international news to the national viewers. Objectivity had been the first casualty as news was invariably slanted to suit the party in power. The news was liberated from the confines of the DD newsroom and gained in objectivity and credibility when New Delhi Television (NDTV) produced ‘The World This Week’ in 1988. Everyone was waiting for the Friday night to watch ‘The World This Week’. This was the only India-based programme, which looked out at the rest of the world. The World This Week was the best current affairs programme on the international scenario and carried good stuff of news, which the regular DD news was failed to carry out. This program is ranked as one of the country’s finest and most popular television shows. In 1989, NDTV produces India’s first live televised coverage of the country’s general elections. The critical and commercial success of the coverage sets a new standard for Indian television. After the Gulf War the media panorama has changed forever.

Golf War – The Catalyst

Post-1990 satellite television in India has become transnational in nature. It coincided with the entry of multinational companies in the Indian markets under the Government policy of privatization. International satellite television was introduced in India by CNN through its coverage of the Gulf War in 1991. In August 1991, Richard Li launched Star Plus, the first satellite channel beamed the signal to Indian subcontinent. Subhash Chandra’s Zee TV appeared in October 1992. It is India’s first privately owned Hindi channel to cater the interest of Indian viewers. This ignition followed by Sony and a little later by domestic channels such as Eenadu, Asianet and Sun TV. Entertainment programs had begun to occupy center stage in the organization’s programming strategies and advertising had come to be main source of funding. Doordarshan’s earlier mandate to aid in the process of social and economic development had clearly been diluted. Doordarshan had faced a stiff competition in news and public affairs programming with international channels like BBC and CNN. Doordarshan planned to sell some slots for news programme under sponsored category. In February 1995, NDTV becomes the country’s first private producer of the national news ‘News Tonight’, which aired on the country’s government-owned Doordarshan set a new landmark for Indian television because of its on-the-spot reporting with pertinent visuals. In the same year, TV Today Network occupied a 20 minutes slot in DD Metro channel and aired a Hindi and current affairs programme ‘Aaj Tak’. This programme became popular for its comprehensive coverage and unique style presentation by Late S. P. Singh. Still we remembered the sign-up message “Ye Thi Khabar Aaj Tak, Intizar. Kijiye Kal Tak”. Large number of viewers across India had been watching Aaj Tak as a daily habit because of its innovative style of news presentation. Besides that Nalini Singh’s five-minute fast paced, condensed daily news capsule Ankhon Dekhi, TV Today Network’s Business Aaj Tak and Newstrack was aired on the Metro channel of Doordarshan. This is the period when satellite channels concentrated on entertainment programmes for their respective channels. Doordarshan was still ruled the most wanted area ‘news’.

Major Players

Doordarshan’s monopoly was broken in 1992, when private television channels infiltrated into the Indian boundaries and entertain the viewers as much as possible. In the beginning of 1990s, the private channels offered only entertainment programmes. The entertainment programs include family drama, comedy serials, children programmes, cartoons, movies, talk shows, recipe shows, musical concerts, non-fiction programmes etc. Private entertainment channels added some infortainment programmes to their Fixed Point Charts (FPC). Keeping the demand of infotainment programmes in mind, the media houses started to produce news magazines, entertainment magazines and news programmes for different channels. India’s premier business and consumer news broadcaster and a leading media content provider, Television Eighteen India Limited (TV18) started India’s first ever entertainment magazine ‘The India Show’ on Star Plus in 1993. This emerging media powerhouse provided prime time television content to almost all leading satellite channels in India including BBC, Star Plus, Sony Entertainment Television, Zee, MTV and Discovery. After The India Show, TV18 produced a weekly business news program India Business Report for BBC World. Indian viewers had very limited options (like public service broadcaster Doordarshan, BBC and CNN) for watching the television news. For televised news, the viewers had to watch Dordarshan and some international news channels like BBC or CNN. In this race to provide more news, more information, Zee Television jumped into the battlefield by launching the news channel Zee News in 1995. This News and current affairs channel revolutionized the way news was delivered to the viewers. Since its inception Zee News has endeavoured to be the fastest to provide news, working towards a single goal of Sabse Pahle (Always First). The other round-the-clock news channel, the Murdoch-owned Star TV beamed its exclusively 24-hour news channels, Star News in 1998. Star made a contract of five year with Prannoy Roy-owned NDTV (New Delhi Television Company) to provide news content for this news channel.
The untiring exhaustive coverage of the Kargil war between India and Pakistan gained more publicity and attracted more viewers towards the electronic channel. This televised conflict also sets a news benchmark for wartime journalism. During the Kargil war, common citizens witnessed how their brave Jawans fought despite in hostile conditions and watched the war front live by the exclusively news channels, Star-TV and Zee-News. The live coverage of the battlefield helped to create a euphoria of patriotism among the Indian masses, which later facilitated into collecting huge funds for the welfare of the families of Kargil martyrs. Every news programme draws the attention of large number of viewers but Kargil war attracts private broadcasters to invest more money in the broadcasting business by launching a news channel. In November 1999, TV18 entered into a 49:51 joint venture with CNBC Asia to launch CNBC India. TV18 is the sole program provider to CNBC India, and produces 12 hours of local content per day on this 24-hour satellite channel.
After the huge success of news programme ‘Aaj Tak’, TV Today group launched a 24-hour Hindi news channel with the same name ‘Aaj Tak’, in December 2000, which covers India with insight, courage and plenty of local flavour. Within 11 months of its launch, Aaj Tak emerged as India’s number one news channel and was awarded Best News Channel award from Indian Television Academy Awards. Some mega events apart from regular interesting items (such as Kandhahar hijack, September 11 attacks, Afghanistan war, attack on Parliament, Iraq war, Godhra carnage and riots) have driven up the viewership. As time passed, NDTV’s five years contract with Star group for outsourcing of news and related programming expired on March 2003. With the expiry NDTV forayed into broadcasting business by simultaneously launching two 24-hour news channels; NDTV 24X7 – English news channel and NDTV India – Hindi news channel, which targets the Indian diaspora across the world. News crazy Indians received more news at faster speed from different channels. Any unusual happening can be caught by the television camera anywhere form Rastrapati Bhawan to bedroom. The power of TV journalism was become more visible by the major sting operations like Operation West End and Shakti Kapoor Case. This style of investigative journalism has brought about a change in the way we look at news, amidst new notions of editorial freedom. The world’s largest family ‘Sahara India Parivar’ launched a 24-hour national Hindi news channel, Sahara Samay, in March 28, 2003. It is the first ever city-centric satellite news channels covering 31 cities in India with their own city news bulletins. Keeping the demand of news in mind, the Union cabinet approved the proposal to convert the DD Metro to DD news in a meeting held on 3 October 2003. Consequent to these decisions, DD-News channel was launched on 3 November 2003. You might have noticed that the news channels are language specific. But DD’s news channel contains the round the clock news bulletins in Hindi/ English are also telecast twice a day on the National Network of DD National.
‘Aap Ki Adalat’ fame Rajat Sharma, Sohaib Ilyasi, the man behind the highly successful ‘India’s Most Wanted’ and Taun Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka roped together and launched a free-to-air Hindi news and current affairs channel India TV on May 20, 2004. Indian viewers had more expectations from this channel. The much-awaited news channel hopes to set itself apart from the existing ones by setting new benchmarks of responsible journalism. Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Rajat Sharma, chairman, India TV, said, “We aim to change the way broadcast news reporting is being conducted in the country. India TV will set new benchmarks by maintaining international standards of responsible and credible news reporting. We will stay away from graphic depictions of violence and sensationalism of news. We will uphold the viewer’s right to correct information and their right to truth and verity. India TV is not just a news channel, it is a movement.” NDTV as a pioneer in Indian television news, set to create a fresh revolution in high-quality business news with the launch of NDTV Profit. NDTV launched this 24-hour business channel on January 17th, 2005.
There is no saturation point in launching of news channel, just booming like sky as the limit. Entertainment channel to infotainment channel, infotainment channel to news channel, news channels to business channel and Business channel to lots more. Now the satellite channels become more topicality with international standard. When we are talking about topicality, CNBC TV18, the only business channel, continues to be the medium of choice for India’s decision makers, affluent audiences across the country since 1999. It has set the pace for the growth in number of television channels by launching a 24-hour consumer channel in Hindi called ‘ Awaaz’. This news channel focusses on empowering consumers on decision-making related to investment, saving and spending. All the programmes are catering to consumers across different walks of life, which included personal finance; variety of markets including commodity, stocks, savings etc.; small businesses; education & career guidance; and verticals like health, shopping etc.
Another news channel was finally launched into the already cluttered news space in Indian television. Jagran TV Pvt Limited’s news channel, Channel 7 up-linked to the air on 27 March 2005. The channel has been set up to cater to the vast Hindi-speaking audiences, already being targeted by a slew of news channels. Channel 7 developed every programme with a bid to cater to all types of audiences and not just pre-dominantly male audiences who get attracted towards news channels.

Regional Leaders

To cater the interest among the Indians, Doordarshan televises programmes in Hindi and associate Official languages. It has launched a number of Regional Language Satellite Channels (DD – 4 to DD – 11 and DD – 13) and telecast programmes in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Kashmiri, Oriya and Tamil. The Regional channels relayed by all terrestrial transmitters in the state and additional programmes in the Regional Language in prime time and non-prime time available only through cable operators. The Doordarshan regional satellite channels telecast major news programme with some entertainment programmes.
If you think about the private regional channels, they have followed the path of the Big brother (i.e Doordarshan). They are neither completely entertainment channel nor exclusively news channel. They are following the middle path and claiming themselves an infotainment channels. The private channels televise through the state dominant languages. Rising advertising revenues and increasing numbers of viewers have provided the impetus for many big players to enter into the business. Some regional media leaders like ETV, Sun TV, Asianet have a strong grip over the regional market. Some major players tried their luck in different states. Zee television has three regional channels; Zee Marathi, Zee Punjabi and Zee Bangla. Star Network entered into Tamilnadu by launching Star Vijay, one of the most popular entertainment channels in India broadcasting in Tamil. Besides that ETV Network is a part of the well-established Ramoji Group, has created 12 dedicated infotainment regional channels. ETV network is the source of rich entertainment of eight different languages. Those are: Telugu, Bangla, Marathi, Kannada, Oriya, Gujarati, Urdu; and Hindi to viewers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Every ETV Network channel focuses exclusively on its audience’s unique cultural identity, its aspirations and its distinct socio-political character. Let us think about the south Indian language Telugu, there are around twelve satellite channels are roaming around the sky with different taste and different flavour. These channels include three news channels, one song-based channels and rest are infotainment channels. When we confine ourselves into news, three channels (ETV2, TV 9 and Teja News) exclusively devoted to news programmes.
Sahara India Pariwar is proud to have five news channels as the bouquet of Sahara Samay. These channels are: Sahara Samay NCR, Sahara Samay Mumbai, Sahara Samay Bihar & Jharkhand, Sahara Samay Madhya Pradesh & Chattisgarh, and Sahara Samay Uttar Pradesh & Uttranchal. Sahara Samay has already managed to gain a loyal audience in India through a bouquet of National & Regional News Channels since its launch. These channels are youthful and vibrant channels targeting students and women, besides that hardcore news stuff. The regional news channels covers the entire spectrum of genre with specific programs on lifestyle, fashion, food, shopping, health and fitness, sports, education, career and city issues, besides giving user-friendly information on traffic updates, city events, train and air timings, etc. Now national news channels cannot confine its boundary to national level. They cannot ignore the regional news because of the stiff competition form the regional cannels. Regional news channels are entering into the competition with a strong will power and also with an aim to portrait regional issues in national and international level.

Conclusion

Now the television industry becomes more specific. In this competitive market, channels are targeting specific viewers. News channels attract more viewers beyond their target by producing interactive and interesting programmes. Every channel needs to do an extensive research on different concepts and different themes to attract more viewers and in the same time more advertisers. After all, advertisements are the bread and butter for the channels. With increased consumer preference for news programmes, television news channels have grown faster than other niche channels. News channels are booming just like sky as the limit. Those days are not far away, when we will get satellite news channel for every major city in India. Staying in abroad, we can update ourselves about all the happening of our hometown. Now news is not restricted to political happenings. It will be extended its limit to every unwanted and hided corners of the society. At last we can reach in the conclusion that anything, which is strange or disgusting, is news. There are no rigid rules, which defines news.

Source:
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[http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0],13673,501030818-474534,00.html
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http://www.prdomain.com/companies/s/sahara_india_pariwar/news_releases/200303mar/pr_sahara_india_nr_20030326.htm
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Reducing the Gap between Glossy Travel Brochures and the Holiday Travel Experience

Have you ever experience the sheer disappointment of getting to your long awaited holiday destination, and discovered there are few similarities between the Glossy Travel Brochure and where you are standing now. Well after using this site I found, I discovered a practical aspect to having someone visit prospective holiday destinations to choose from, so one does not experience this very disappointing event again. A Perfect Holiday knowing all the dos and don’ts with only pleasant surprises.

To test this theory I looked back at a recent trip to Europe and the brochures and information that I based my decision to have my holiday at that location. The first thought on where to holiday, came from programs like cnn news and fox news travel articles that focused on clean sterile images of the 5 star hotels, the usual landmarks and tourist attractions. The glossy brochure had been tossed out in the trash, so I went back to the same travel agent and collected the current version and there was little difference between them except for the images. I think most of the words were the same, and I found this surprising because you would think over the year they would change the words to better suit the images. Putting this all together I had a summary of the basics of my decision to travel to that destination.

Next I registered with ( [http://www.ilovetravelstories.com] ) and for $10 organized a “TravelApple”, cute term for a student you send to check out the destination. I was very interested in London and the inner city, people, parks, the food they eat, my wife is very interested in the parks from a picture book in the cities, the weather and clothes to wear, practical accommodation (not the normal sterile hotel, a place to meet young people). These are the preferences nominated in my profile to my TravelApple. I could send the traveling student to do and see the things I wanted, and asked for suggestions of similar experiences.

So we managed to see the wild daffodils growing like weeds all over the park lawns of London from our messy little home study. It’s a bit damp and cold, though it is winter. But in the country side the houses are cozy and the cottages are covered in vines. Trees are beautiful even without their leaves and moss consumes them. The hills of paddocks can be seen beyond the roofs of the houses and they are perfectly divided with rows of trees.
We then ventured out of the main street of the small town on a small dirt road leading into the hills.

There were no other people and it didn’t look like anyone ever used it, despite the odd
footprint embedded in the mud. We couldn’t stop walking. We just had to see what was beyond the bend in the road and the next and the next. I then reached a driveway which I wasn’t quite sure of its use, as it lead onto a steep uneven bushwalking track. Digging into the mud as I climbed I had come to the most amazing views of the town and the hills. Spread before me lie the beautiful lush patches amongst the buildings like a cross stitch quilt draped over lounge furniture.
Through (www.ilovetravelstories.com ) and my travel apple, I now know the lay of the land and off the well trodden glossy brochure track, I am fully equipped to go to places and have experiences on would not of imagined. This is an example of the “Gaping Glossy Brochure Gap”

7 Effective Ways to Read and Understand African Political News

Whether you are an African expatriate hoping to stay in touch with what is going on in your home country, a potential tourist hoping to do research on the best place to visit, a political student striving to understand the development in Africa, or simply well-wisher dedicated to unload of few bucks to chip in the aid for Africa, translating the information you read into valuable knowledge is an important task

Like any other continent, Africa offers a set of complex realities that can offer conflicting outcome for the party interested; moreover, accessing the information you need is not always evident between the information you look for, and the information you find.

Below is a short description of criteria to consider when reading or researching news on Africa. While the list is not exclusive, and can certainly be extended, I believe this initial guidepost may help. Feel free to add or consider additional helpful points.

1. Consider the source of the information

Africa is a very complex place, that combines many world and realities, the gap between the rich and the poor creates in many places two different societies whose world rarely collide. For that reason, news sources are often tailored to one group or the other.

Understanding the source of the information will help you assess the legitimacy of the information you have. For example, is it a local or foreign news source? Foreign sources often have greater access to political circles because the government is more concerned about the way it is portrayed to the outside world; however, foreign sources rarely give you the real pulse of the nation. If the source is local, consider the accreditation that is reflected by interviews or first hand accounts. In Africa, Official news is often given unofficially, while official news is a front. That means that those sources that have close access to the government are more likely to give credible news, compare to unaccredited sources to whom is given generic news. (More on it further down)

2. Try to capture the perspective of the information

In Africa, the freedom of the press is not a sacred duty, and as mentioned above, free and transparent news are not evident. As a result, news often reflects the perspective of the source. The information you will get is based on the perception of the source. In the West, Africa is widely primarily viewed as a continent ravaged by war and diseases, where impoverished people and government are struggling very hard to survive, and thus their lives and activities are geared toward Help and how the global community can help them. As a result, most African news coming from the West will treat topics such as aid, sanction, peace and war, and oil discovery. Human rights, rigged election and corruption are other subjects often treated; in other words, Western media tend to chronicle Africa’s efforts to “join” or emulate them.

When it comes to local media and news sources, the dilemma is different. Elite and well positioned news sources depicts the political life of the country, meaning that their news are mostly geared toward accounts of big political activities, such as Presidential travels and visits, opposition complaints, foreign investment, dignitaries visits, Diaspora news and international events in which the government participate. In short, those news sources attempts to present information from the perception of Africa to the rest of the world.

Finally, local media perception is often directed at the local population, therefore offers information on issue that matters to locals; energy and gas issues, employment, government promises kept or not, education, political freedom, cultural and social safeguard, etc…

3. Acknowledge the Biases

In the U.S, it is often assumed that CNN is Pro-democrats, and Fox News is a Republican arm, regardless if true or not, that perception is very present in Africa as well; not in form of Republican or democrats of course, but they still play a short role.

From the day of colonization, Western Nations had strategic interests in Africa, and Political propaganda has insured that many Westerners view some African countries internal policies as beneficial or threatening to their way of life.

If your African news information is from a Western source, always consider the position of your country with the African country you are researching. Popular opinion is critical and very few Western media will say nice things about the Zimbabwe government for example. Western media will offer news based on the national interest of their home country. You will rarely read negative report about the Egyptian Government that has good relations with Washington, although it is not a beacon of Democracy, yet Zimbabwe, which has been a torn in their side, is demonized. This is not an attempt to justify the evil of some people, but it is worth considering that Western media will report information according to the way they wish a certain country to be viewed.

If you wish to avoid the biases of Western news outlet, you are better off searching for African news by African news outlets. There again, there is an often bias between Pro and anti government. Some news sources are government sponsored, while other are dedicated to discredit the government regardless of good deeds or not. In Africa the contrast is usually very strong, as you can read full articles of “official” news feed that praises the government unashamedly, while others are almost littered with insults. Very rarely will you find news source that are impartial, and it is usually very evident to distinguish the sources political leanings.

Given the polarity of African societies, and the actuality of International Relations, one must not look at news Biases with pure disgust, but as a component and vital actor of global politics; filling between diverse biases can actually help uncover valuable information. But in case it doesn’t help, always consider independent news and…

4. Identify the agendas

If for some reasons you are unable to filter official and supposedly professional news sources, do make use of independent news sources such as NGO’s and Think Tank. Because they are usually unaffiliated with any government, and their work is mainly based on empirical data and research, NGO and Think Tank do paint an educated and comprehensive picture of what is going on in Africa. Most of their works are expanded toward a wide range of subjects that reflects a non-partial view of government activities, social realities and international implications.

If you obtain your news via NGOs or Think Tanks, you are most likely to have access to strong data, depending on the Think Tank, and hard core evidence of what is going on in the country you research.

The only problem presented by NGOs and Think Tanks is that they do have an agenda. The nature of their strong work is usually motivated by the mission to influence or advice a government to act toward an issue they view as important. Because of that agenda, those organizations often accentuate an issue to the point where it overshadows others, making it look like an exaggeration.

For example if an NGO has for agenda to reduce arm trafficking in Africa, their information may offer solid leads on the pulse of a country, with credible evidence; however, their extensive research on the impact of arm trafficking may minimize other positive information, to the point of giving the impression that you can buy Ak47 at a candy store. This of course is not with the intent to deceive or dramatize, but with the objective of using the data to convince world powers to act on arms trafficking.

If you know how to extract your information from those sources, they are an excellent balance to local and international news.

5. Check the blogs

Africa sends millions of its bright Sons and Daughters abroad to study in higher education, and loses other millions professionals in search of a better living. While the damages of this brain drain are considerable, the attachment all those Africans retain for their homeland represents a glimpse of hope.

Since they cannot directly be involve in official affairs in their home countries because of the distance or political threats, many member of the African Diaspora voice their opinions in blogs or personal websites.

The advantage of reading those opinionated blogs is that it offers a personal touch and reaction to all the other news you may have read.

Many are very knowledgeable in what they are writing, and approach it in a very professional way. They are not constrained by editorial control, so are free to give their honest, educated opinion on what they read, heard or experienced in and out of Africa.

If they are not that knowledgeable on African affairs anymore, many still have families abroad who can give them first account to report on what is happening.

Because they are so many blogs related to Africa, you can not only compare information and news, but also engage the writers and have a better feel on how and where they get to say what they are saying.

For most people, this is a valuable source, because on top of general political views, they can offer a personal one, as well as giving an insight on how and where people live their everyday, not to mention, where the hotspots are.

The disadvantage of Blogs is that it is after all just personal opinions, and personal opinions can be motivated or inspired by perception, Bias, and /or agenda. It is not uncommon for exile politicians to mount an opposition from abroad, something blogs tend to make easier, so caution is advised for that reason.

6. Search for supportive news

Every news agency is in search of a scoop, and none wants to be left out of considerable information.

Whenever you stumble on interesting information for your research, after identifying the source, always make sure to search if that information is reprised by other news outlets.

When it comes to Africa, it is very common for news to be generalizing, but if you feel you came across useful information, always double check if you can locate it in other Western sources (if those where your primary sources), and then in local African sources. Check in Blogs and social sites if it is being discussed, or better create a new discussion.

The fact of the matter is that if you are looking for information on Africa, the complexity of its state does not favor taking any information at face value, but insuring that it is shared, discussed and not hostage to any perception and bias will help you have good grip on what is going on.

7. Use common sense

In Politics like in everything, things happen for a reason, from a coup d’Etat, to a social uprising, and political instability to international sanction.

Africa is not another planet we know nothing about, and it did not appear without a past or history.

In everything you read or learn about Africa, consider the context and remember history. Famine and poverty did not come suddenly; wars all have a spark plug, poor countries should not be able to buy weapons they do not manufacture.

The context and the historical reality that today links nearly all countries on Earth presents the fertile ground on how you will receive the news you receive, they way you receive it.

Knowledge is a light to which is drawn a bug called interest, and common sense should help you navigate the waves of misinformation toward the land of comprehension of the subject you research.

As mentioned, this is a list that can be extended and perfected, but for all who have at one point or another, read African news or wanted to understand what is going in Africa, I hope that little list will be helpful the next time it happens.

Over-reliance on popular media is like over relying in anything, it cripples one’s ability, and dilutes the quality of the need sought.

Stay thirsty for knowledge; you might very well quench your thirst yourself.