For our maiden editorial, the Citizens Board would like to indicate the footprint and legacy it wishes to leave for posterity. Our ethos emanates from some disheartening observations in the current African media industry.

The current media landscape in democratically stable countries in Africa is entirely dominated by toxic politics, gossip, salnder and negative media coverage. We observe this with sadness bearing in mind that our already fragile continent is susceptible to media manipulations such as happened in Rwanda and Kenya which resulted in the loss of millions of lives and millions more worth of property. We also observe with pain how our societies are negatively being reconstructed through cheap media reportage heralded by the social media boom and technological advances.

We also note with regret the partiality of reportage and political tinkering state-run media houses have been subjected to. In some African countries, state-owned media houses have been reduced to state propaganda machinery. This is unacceptable. While the emergence of private media houses beckoned some hope, profiteering has affected their foresight, and their reportage has become skewed towards the advantage of the highest sponsor for the publication of a self-serving or elite-interested news items and articles.

The Citizens Board, launched yesterday August 1, is out to change the status quo. The Citizens Board is out to challenge the narrative that only political news should dominate the headlines. That the only way citizens can participate in nation-building is through politics. That for citizens to be heard, they must speak politics. That governance is politics; that no national issue can be debated on its merit without wearing political goggles or party colours is appalling. It cannot be so. Development is multi-sectoral and requires the full participation of experts and opinion shapers from every sector. We are here to give the microphone and provide the parquet for ordinary citizens from all walks of life: academia, civil society, legal practitioners, students, women, children, farmers and traders to participate in a decorous, non-toxic and tolerant manner in contributing to the development of their individual nations, and the African continent at large, devoid of trivial politics as has become the norm. We will report on politics but measuredly, and we will amplify the voices of the citizenry to hold public officials accountable. What we don’t want to do is to give attention, promote or engage in petty and trivial politics that sets our various countries backwards.

For us, getting credible news, thought-provoking articles and opinion pieces, as well as development-oriented content and literary contributions to our readers, is prime. Getting the voices of women and children, and other vulnerable groups in our society heard, is cardinal to our work. We will not accept Adsense adverts that will impair the smooth reading of our content. We will not bore our readers with unnecessary and annoying pop-ups that interfere with their consumption of our content. And, we will not allow the posting of horror pictures and images that cause panic and shivers because we want our content to be acceptable for the consumption of all age groups.

For our thought-leadership category, we would like to extend a hand of invitation to academics and experts in their chosen fields to apply and become regular contributors to that category. Be the change you want to see. If you are a thought-leader and would like to contribute to this category and others, please send us your CV with an indication of your area of expertise and what you want to write about to contact@citizensboard.org. We will be happy to have you onboard.

To submit an article for publication, please contact us at opinions@citizensboard.org and to become a columnist, guest author or regular contributor, please write to contact@citizensboard.org and we will set your professional profile up.

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