Journal article

Zimbabwe: The conflictual relations between journalism and politics in the first decade of independence

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Publication Details

Author list: Chuma W

Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US)

Publication year: 2020

Journal: International Communication Gazette

Volume number: 82

Issue number: 7

Start page: 1

End page: 17

Total number of pages: 17

ISSN: 1748-0485

eISSN: 1748-0493



African countries where democracy and majority rule came about through negotiated transitions are often conflicted polities in which elements of the new order exist uneasily with strong currents of the ancien regime. The media in these ‘transitioning’ societies naturally find themselves at the forefront of interpreting and representing these contradictions through deploying both ‘old’ journalistic frames and creating new narratives. In doing so, African journalists mediating this initial phase of the postcolonial transition negotiate a complex terrain: fielding pressures from an array of power centres including the new political elite transforming itself from a liberation movement into a democratic government, corporate hierarchies with strong links to the past, advertisers and media owners. They are also confronted with a plethora of expectations of how they should represent the new order, in part based on who they are, in terms of race, gender and class. This article focuses on the journalism-politics nexus within the first decade of democracy in Zimbabwe, identifying key moments and sites where the matrix of influences (and contradictions) played itself out. It does so through archival research, including selected biographies published by journalists who lived through the contested transition. The results suggest that in Zimbabwe, the structural factors shaping journalism practice rested to a large extent on a set of expectations of a ‘collaborative’ media by the new political elite, which adopted an aggressive stick and carrot approach to enforcing journalistic collaboration. At the same, it is also clear that journalists were able, from time to time, to subvert or manoeuvre within the ‘system’ to assert their agency, although this was in cases few and far between.


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Last updated on 2021-10-03 at 12:51