Demystifying Democracy in the Digital Age: Determining the democratic potential of participatory journalism in Zimbabwe

Mutsvairo, Bruce (2013) Demystifying Democracy in the Digital Age: Determining the democratic potential of participatory journalism in Zimbabwe. In: The Cadbury Conference 2013: African newspaper cultures, 17-18 May 2013, Birmingham.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Abstract

Democracy and media are inseparable as has been documented by several scholars (See Fog, 2004; Wahl-Jorgenson & Hanitzsch, 2009; Dutta, 2011; Bhattacharyya & Hodler, 2012 ). Disciples of democracy claim the system has an intertwined relationship with media, possibly explaining why the two words are often used interchangeably. Contemporary media research has moved to focus more on the democratic potentiality of participatory journalism (Carlson, 2007; Deuze et. al., 2007; De Zuniga, 2009; Kaufhold et. al., 2010) The emergence of new media platforms is thus expectedly rejuvenating long-standing debate on the role of media in democracy. Better still, empirical research has credited participatory journalism for example with helping free up the democratic space in several countries including China (Reeze & Dai, 2009), the U.S. (Young, 2008) and Burma (Pidduck, 2010). Only a handful of studies have however documented the democratic potentiality of content wholly-produced and shared among untrained media professionals on the African continent. This study uses Zimbabwe as a case study to investigate the democratic significance of participatory journalism. Traditionally, Zimbabwe has dominated headlines in the West for several reasons including the perceived repression on the part of the government towards free press. Journalists seen as critical to President Robert Mugabe’s government have allegedly been arrested while independent newspapers are said to have been closed down. But for some, the Internet has changed the rules of the game forcing previously authoritarian governments, including purportedly Zimbabwe’s, to open up. Critiquing Rheingold’s (1993) utopian view that the Internet has democratising potential, this study argues based on a three-month online ethnographical assessment of citizen comments appearing in the country’s two major publications (NewZimbabwean.com and The Zimbabwean.co.uk) that the major democratic contribution of citizen journalism is rather its ability to enable Zimbabweans to tell stories from their own perspectives, a chance never accorded to them by both the state and Western media in general.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P500 Journalism
P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Media & Communication Design
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2014 11:14
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:03
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/17151

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics


Policies: NRL Policies | NRL University Deposit Policy | NRL Deposit Licence