By VIOLET MENGO
PANOS Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) says the growing influence of social media platforms on the production and distribution of media content presents good opportunities for the advancement of community broadcasting in Southern Africa.
Executive director Lilian Kiefer says PSAf believes that the proliferation of social media platforms has opened community media to new horizons which were not in existence a decade ago.
Ms Kiefer said social media tools are here to stay and they have become an inseparable part of the social fabric, influencing every area including the way people seek and share information.
â€œSocial media has become a central part of the news gathering process. Through social media tools, community members have now become journalists in their own right, Ms Kiefer said.
She said community members can also now directly engage with their duty bearers through the local radio stationsâ€™ social media platforms.
Ms Kiefer said through social media platforms for community radio stations, community members can also directly engage with opinion leaders like politicians.
The executive director said there is a lot that different stakeholders can do together to ensure that the poor and marginalised of society are not left out in the various advancements that have led to increase in the access to and use of social media platforms.
She said since 2013, PSAf has scaled up efforts to enhance the mediaâ€™s capacity to use social media tools to seek, store and disseminate information.
Ms Kiefer said if properly used, social media and community radio can go a long way in empowering Southern African communities to drive their own development.
She said by using social media platforms, community radio stations can add pictures to voice.
She bemoaned that the majority of people in rural areas still do not have access to technological tools like mobile phones through which they can access and use social media.
â€œThis calls for the collective efforts of different stakeholders, especially the mobile phone companies, to ensure that all citizens have access to these platforms,â€ Ms Kiefer said.
By VIOLET MENGO