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30 April 2021
African Journalism Studies
Special Issue Editor(s)
University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
j. Siguru Wahutu,
New York University, New York, US
‘African Digital Media Review’ (ADMR) (Issue No: 7) - Making News Outside Traditional Media: The Rise of Peripheral Actors in African Communication Ecologies
David Cheruiyot, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Admire Mare, Namibia University of Science and Technology
George Ogola, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
- Siguru Wahutu, New York University, New York
‘African Digital Media Review’ (ADMR), a Special Annual Issue of African Journalism Studies (AJS) invites submissions of complete articles (6,000-8,000 words) for its seventh installment. ADMR broadly explores the impact of digital technologies on a range of social and cultural practices that directly implicate journalism as a social practice. It provides a forum for scholarship that engages with and invigorates wide-ranging debates on the impact of digital technologies on diverse spheres of journalism (and communication in the broader sense) in Africa. The emphasis is on taking stock of the ‘changing journalism and communication landscape’ and exploring African experiences within a global comparative context. This next issue focuses on how actors emerging outside legacy news media are shaping journalism in Africa.
Recent developments in African communication ecologies show an expanding space for unique sets of non-journalistic actors. These actors are now integrated into traditional news media in sourcing, data journalism projects, fact-checking, among others. Further, some of these actors are expanding and complementing news production within legacy news media through, for example, providing funding for media innovations and content production, collaborative projects in investigative journalism, or training traditional journalists. Whilst in some contexts, these actors are increasingly supplanting and transgressing boundaries of journalistic practice, thereby spawning new forms of journalisms at the margins of traditional journalism.
Recent scholarship has recognised the expanding configurations of news production through the intervention of these 'strangers' or 'newcomers' in traditional journalism, but unfortunately, mostly in the Global North. This special issue will specifically interrogate the growing impact of these new actors to journalism in Africa.Peripheral actors are considered as individuals or organisations that operate outside the boundaries of traditional journalism, but are part of the broader communication ecology in a specific journalistic culture. Their intervention could be through independent production of content or collaborative partnerships with traditional journalists and legacy news media, leading to new ‘fusions’ in journalistic practices (Baack, 2017; Usher, 2019). These actors could be broadly categorised as interlopers i.e. those challenging the journalism field such as bloggers or citizen journalists, or intralopers, those that complement legacy news media such as NGOs, data analysts or audience metric companies (Eldridge II, 2019; Holton & Belair-Gagnon, 2018).
Recent studies have explored new partnerships emerging between technologists (such as data scientists and programmers) from the Global North and traditional journalists in African newsrooms, an example of an 'entanglement' with possible implications, which are yet to be interrogated (Cheruiyot, Baack, & Ferrer-Conill, 2019). There are also indications that the previous notions of ‘citizen journalism’ or ‘alternative’ media have been too simplistic (Holt, Ustad Figenschou, & Frischlich, 2019; Mutsvairo & Salgado, 2020), and thus insufficient in analysing the emerging participatory cultures in an increasingly connected Africa. However, scholars recognise that the space in which these peripheral actors operate is elitist (Robinson & Wang, 2018; Wahutu, 2019), even though there are emerging examples of grassroots/community media within urban poor or rural regions on the continent that remain understudied.
Theoretically, scholars position peripheral actors in close proximity to traditional journalism, while also acknowledging that these ‘newcomers’ elicit tensions within professional journalism (Eldridge II, 2019). This special issue aims to broaden the understanding of the role and influence of peripheral actors in journalism. Among other subjects, the special issue tackles questions on whether these ‘new actors’ challenge, reinforce or redefine journalism (as a profession); the implications of peripheral news production to legacy news media; how these new actors shape the news, as well as how they re-orient the role of journalism in Africa.
The special issue welcomes papers that address any or several of the topics below, both conceptual/theoretical as well as empirical contributions:
- Mapping peripheral news actors in Africa
- Identities in peripheral journalism
- Ethics and values of peripheral actors
- Peripheral actors and ‘dark participation’
- Networked participation within newsrooms
- Collaboration and investigative journalism
- Fact-checkers and ‘anti-fake news’ initiatives
- Bloggers and citizen journalism
- Social media content creators and news production
- Community and rural media in the digital age
- Digital media start-ups and diasporic journalism
- INGOs and humanitarian journalism
- Civic technologists and data journalism
- Non-profit and aid-funded journalism
- Podcasters and independent (broadcast) news production
- Political pundits and the 'fifth estate' in the digital age
- Comedians and satirical journalism
- Populism and media critics in the digital age
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Complete articles fitting within this broadly defined theme must be submitted online via the African Journalism Studies ‘ScholarOne Manuscripts’ site. Please select the "special issue title" when submitting your paper to ScholarOne.
For further details on the journal and author guidelines, please see ‘Instructions for authors’.
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