Readers comments on Zimbabwean newspaper websites: how audience voices are challenging and (re)defining traditional journalism

Mabweazara, H. M. (2014) Readers comments on Zimbabwean newspaper websites: how audience voices are challenging and (re)defining traditional journalism. Digital Journalism, 2(1), pp. 44-61. (doi:10.1080/21670811.2013.850200)

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Abstract

Using qualitative data drawn from in-depth interviews with journalists, this study investigates how leading print newsrooms in Zimbabwe are adapting to the wave of changes spawned by readers’ comments on their websites. It specifically examines how newspaper journalists are handling the “new” context in which strangers contribute and respond directly to something they alone once controlled. The paper further explores the professional and ethical dilemmas emerging with the volumes of user-generated content posted on the websites and the approaches taken by newsrooms in managing and “gatekeeping” the content. The study generally observes that while newsrooms are still broadly adjusting to the influx of readers’ voices in their territory, the comments are increasingly shaping and contributing to the dynamics of newsmaking in ways that point to an emerging ecological reconfiguration and recasting of dimensions of news production. In the same way, the comment forums embody spaces for public deliberation. However, the lack of clear gatekeeping strategies has opened floodgates of abuses and extremist views that pose serious threats to the core values of news as well as the normative ideals of traditional journalism.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mabweazara, Dr Hayes
Authors: Mabweazara, H. M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Digital Journalism
Publisher:Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN:2167-0811
ISSN (Online):2167-082X
Published Online:14 November 2013

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