‘Wiring’ African Newsrooms: The Internet and Mainstream Print Journalism Practice in Zimbabwe

‘Wiring’ African Newsrooms: The Internet and Mainstream Print Journalism Practice in Zimbabwe

Hayes Mawindi Mabweazara (University College Falmouth, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-591-9.ch008
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Abstract

This chapter uses a qualitative case study approach to critically examine the appropriations of the Internet by Zimbabwean mainstream print media journalists. It draws on social constructivist approaches to technology and the sociology of journalism to highlight the impact of the Internet on practices and professionalism. The chapter argues that the deployment of the Internet by Zimbabwean journalists (and indeed in Africa at large) is relative and contingent upon the ‘internal’ newsroom context(s) and the wider socio-political and economic circumstances in which the journalists operate. Among other functions, the technology shapes the mainstream press’ news agenda as well as avails information often censored by government. However, as the chapter shall demonstrate, the use of the Internet is replete with ethical and professional implications.
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Background And Methodological Approach

Although Zimbabwe, like most sub-Saharan African countries faces major challenges of socio-economic development that manifest in poverty, disease and low level access to social services, including political turbulence (Kupe, 2004, p. 354), it nonetheless provides a good case for a close examination of the deployment of new technologies by mainstream journalists in sub-Saharan Africa for two key reasons. First, while the Zimbabwean media scene can not be generalised to scenarios in individual African countries, its mainstream press remains a central and vibrant platform for the struggle for control of public discourse between the opposition and the incumbent elite.1 Second, relative to other sub-Saharan African countries, new technologies have proliferated and permeated key facets of social life in the country (see Moyo, L. 2009). They constitute an important factor in shaping communications, not least, the mainstream press’ newsmaking practices.

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