No technology but still participatory journalists: Viewpoints from Zimbabwe’s rural folks

Publisher:
Central Queensland University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Ejournalist : a Refereed Media Journal, 2013, 13 (2), pp. 42 - 58
Issue Date:
2013
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It has generally been accepted that non-professional media actors empowered by novel digitally networked technologies are changing the media landscape in the West. In contrast, this is less obvious in the case of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent years, however, have seen the emergence of a diverse range of citizen media in Africa, empowered by digital technologies such as mobile phones, blogs, micro blogs, video-sharing platforms, and mapping. Through participant observation as well as a review of the existing research, this study aims to critically analyse and position the impact of citizen journalism in the African discourse, specifically exploring the Zimbabwean case, where citizen journalism appears uniquely non-integrated with traditional reporting as journalists continue to question the ethical basis for commercially engaging alternative form of journalism. While others like South Africa-based Mail and Guardian’s ‘Thought Leader’ continue to coerce citizen participation, evidence on the ground show that conventional media in Zimbabwe is still skeptical about the prospects of embedding the works of citizen journalists into their mainstream packages. However, operating on their own, others like kubatana.net have thrived, further underscoring the perceived democratic value of citizen journalism. This research endeavors to examine and compare the citizen journalism narrative, contextualizing the largely uncovered rural setting in order to understand ways through which these communities communicate with little or no exposure to the Internet.
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