Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

New technologies and print journalism practice in Zimbabwe

Mabweazara, Hayes


Hayes Mabweazara


This study uses an ethnographic approach (participant observation in conjunction with indepth group and individual interviews) to closely examine how Zimbabwean print journalists in the state-controlled and private press deploy new K'Ts (the Internet; email; and the mobile phone) in their everyday professional practices. It explores how immediate conditions of practice and broader social circumstances set conditions for distinctive forms of new technology use, as well as how the technologies are impacting on traditional journalistic standards, values, and practices. The study rejects deterministic approaches to technology and argues that to understand the impact of new technologies on journalism practice in Africa, we must put journalists into a critical analytical context that takes into account contextual factors that coalesce to structure and constrain the uses of the technologies. To conceptualise the structuring impact of context and the degree of agency available to journalists in their deployment of new technologies, the study reinvigorates the sociology of journalism and social constructivist approaches to technology. The findings of the study offer insider perspectives of the practices and cultures around new technology use in the newsrooms and point to complex individual and socially patterned explanations of the appropriations of the technologies. While newsroom practices and cultures examined here broadly affirm early studies by showing: how new technologies impact on journalists' work routines; the news content they produce; the structure of their work environment; and their relationships with sources and readers, a closer analysis points to a number of contextual factors that collectively shape and constrain the uses of the technologies. These factors result in 'local context' appropriations that move beyond a simple substantiation of early studies. Thus, while the technologies offer journalists a wide range of resources and technological possibilities to work with, they also pose ethical and professional challenges. These and other findings highlight the deficiencies of deterministic or 'technicist' approaches to technology and their claims for a straightforward causal connection between technology and society. The study should thus be read as a challenge to the popular and utopian assumptions about the impact of new technologies on African journalism and as a dialogue with constructivist approaches that see technologies as inherently open to interpretive flexibility.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2013
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Internet ; journalism ; Southern Africa ; Zimbabwe ; mass communication ; new technology
Public URL
Contract Date Feb 21, 2013
Award Date 2010-06


You might also like

Downloadable Citations