University of Johannesburg (South Africa)


The main aim of this project is to investigate and gain insight, through a six-month study, the disruptions and opportunities to everyday mainstream news production wrought by the global outbreak of Covid-19 in three selected countries—South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. In the history of newsroom evolution, every disruption brought to the journalism profession has conversely been accompanied by opportunities which newsrooms are known to have exploited hitherto. This project seeks to investigate and understand the disruptions and opportunities to everyday mainstream news production brought by the global outbreak of Covid-19 in three selected countries. It seeks to do this by investigating newsroom practices and configurations in 12 selected newsrooms across the three countries. We focus on four newsrooms (two print and two television stations in each country). The project will, therefore, focus on five specific objectives: (1) Understand and gain insight into how Covid-19 has affected everyday news-gathering and production routines in selected broadcast and print media outlets in selected newsrooms across three countries; (2) provide a comprehensive description and analysis of the scale and nature of disruption and opportunities created in newsrooms across the three countries; (3) examine how journalists and media houses perceive the level of public trust from the audience; (4) understand how mainstream media organizations and journalists have responded to disinformation practices rampant in the news around the outbreak; (5) draw lessons on journalism and global crisis from other countries and examine how these can lead to better interventions.

Principal Investigators

Gilbert Motsaathebe

Associate Professor, Journalism, Film and Television, University of Johannesburg

Gilbert Motsaathebe, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He previously taught at the United Arab Emirates University in the UAE and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa. He also lived and taught in Japan and India, where he was a South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS) fellow. Prior to joining academia, he worked as news producer and output editor for television stations such as Bop Television, SABC, and e-TV, before serving as manager of communication and media relations for the North West Provincial Government in South Africa. His research interests include topics on feminist film criticism, post-apartheid films, media and gender, journalism education and practice, African rhetoric, and multiculturalism. He has published extensively in accredited peer-reviewed publications, and he is a regular speaker at national and international conferences in the areas of film, journalism, communication, and media studies. He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa.

Albert Chibuwe

Lecturer, Midlands State University

Albert Chibuwe (PhD) graduated from the University of Johannesburg in 2017 and obtained a PhD in communication studies. His research was on political communication in Zimbabwe. He is a lecturer in the media and society studies department at Midlands State University (MSU), Zimbabwe. He teaches principles of advertising, understanding broadcast media and critical political economy of the media at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His research interests are in political communication, social media, media framing, journalism training and practice, and indigenous language media. He has published several articles in indexed academic journals.

Sarah Chiumbu

Associate Professor and Head of School, University of Johannesburg

Prof Sarah H Chiumbu is an associate professor in the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg. Before joining the University of Johannesburg, she was senior research specialist in the Human and Social Development Research Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria, South Africa where she spent 4 years. She also spent seven years at the University of Witwatersrand where she was a senior lecturer in media and communication studies. She holds a PhD and MA in media studies from the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research interests are in the areas of media, democracy, citizenship, digital and alternative media. She has published widely in both academic and non-academic publications.

William Lesitaokana

Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, University of Botswana

William Offense Lesitaokana, PhD, is a senior lecturer and head of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Botswana. He teaches theoretical and practical courses in media studies, specialising in new media. His research focuses on media audiences, consumption of media technology, cultural sociology, and media in Botswana. He has refereed publications in the area of mobile media, mobile communication, and youth and society. Recently, he published a co-edited book entitled New Media and Mediatization of Religion: An African Perspective.

Allen Munoriyarwa

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Johannesburg

Allen Munoriyarwa (PhD, journalism, University of Johannesburg) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. His research interests are in journalism and news production practices. He also researches on big data and digital surveillance. His research employs different qualitative and quantitative methodologies. He is currently coordinating a research project exploring the growth of digital surveillance practices in Southern Africa under the auspices of the Media Policy and Democracy Project. This is a joint University of Johannesburg and University of South Africa research project.