Doctoral Degrees (Journalism)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 16
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    Journalism, revolutionary technologies and preventing future harm: Proposing the flaming torch media ethics theory and the ten tenets field guide for responsible and ethical communication on science and technology’s cutting edge
    (2022-12) van Rooyen, Renier Stephanus; Geffen, Nathan; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Revolutionary emerging technologies and new scientific discoveries can radically enhance human lives and capabilities, but can also disrupt and harm society – especially if they challenge prevailing world views, established ways of doing things or core human beliefs. And yet, no simple, practical field guide exists for how people, especially science journalists and communicators, ought to talk about technologies and discoveries responsibly so as to limit fear, misinformation and harmful disruption. This study proposes the novel Flaming Torch Media Ethics Theory and its underlying Ten Tenets as the basis for a useful field guide for more responsible, ethical communication of revolutionary technologies and discoveries in the public sphere. A literature review, on key lessons taken from three historical case studies of mass communication efforts relating to the theory of evolution, climate change and nuclear energy, informed the draft version of the theory and its tenets. The theory was then presented, in a set of in-depth interviews, to nine experts from three current emerging technologies – Bitcoin/blockchain, artificial intelligence and human gene editing – to refine the theory and to assess its usefulness. The resulting theory, and the simplified field guide, are presented here. A chief aim was to create a field guide simple enough to be fit for the era of social media, where there is very little control over who communicates what new science or technology to which audience.
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    Making sense of the message: An analysis of the editor’s letter in three archetypal South African women’s magazines at the start of the 21st century
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Rossouw, Elna; Rabe, Lizette; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The notion of a magazine as “social barometer” in a particular era is widely acknowledged. Moreover, it is argued that women’s magazines especially provide essential information about society and cultures, including in the “messages” conveyed in the editors’ letters to their respective audiences. Since South Africa’s democratisation, the political and socio-economic contexts in the country have changed noticeably, and the euphoria associated with the naissance of democracy has dissipated. This study sets out to determine the “message” in the editors’ letter of three archetypal South African women’s magazines during the first 17 years of the 21st century. It is situated within Production-Based Research on women’s magazines, while Critical Political Economy (CPE), advancing to Contemporary Political Economy, and Feminism were utilised as the theoretical points of departure. These paradigms offer an all-inclusive analysis of the “message” in the editors’ letters in the three “alpha” women’s magazines studied. As such, the study attempts to “make sense of the message” in SARIE, FAIRLADY and TRUELOVE – the selected magazines. Historiography as research method is applied to give context to South African magazine studies. This is followed by Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) – employing ATLAS.ti® as a software package – to determine how the editors’ letters reflect on the political and socio-economic contexts in South Africa. Historiography confirmed the powerful relationship between magazines and societies, and the concept of the magazine as “social barometer”. It corroborated that magazines mirror society, and vice versa. The QCA deduced that the origin and development of the three magazines were set against their specific ideological views and market-driven ideals in response to political and socio-economic contexts. Thus, in “making sense of the message” in these magazines, I infer that these magazines reflect the political and socio-economic issues of a young, democratic society and thereby are “social barometers” of their time. The study confirms the statement by Jane Raphaely, doyenne of South African women’s magazines, that women’s magazines gave “women in South Africa a significant soapbox with a huge sound system that allowed even the softest voice to reverberate as a very loud shout”. It can be concluded that this study proves the importance of media content, and specifically the editor’s letter of a women’s magazine, as a powerful instrument to persuade, inspire and inform the audience, proving that a magazine, through the voice or “message” of the editor, acts as “social barometer” of its time.
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    Media construction and representation of women in political leadership positions: A study of selected news media outlets in Nigeria
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-12) Fafowora, Bimbo Lolade; Rabe, Lizette; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite the growing acceptance of women’s political participation across the world, women in political leadership positions are still regarded as “others”. In Nigeria, just like in other parts of the world, women are still poorly represented in politics and political leadership positions. Globally, media portrayal of women has been identified as one of the reasons for the underrepresentation of women in politics and public leadership. It is against this backdrop that this study examines the construction and representation of women in political leadership positions by the media in Nigeria. Situated at the intersection of media, politics and gender studies, this study explores media contents for representations of women in politics which could contribute to the promotion and perpetuation of traditional gender stereotypes which legitimate marginalisation and subordination of women in Nigeria. Given that media has been identified as sites for hegemonic contestations through ideology building, this study, by examining the construction and representation of women political leaders in four national newspapers in Nigeria, namely The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, and This Day, contributes to media and feminist scholarship aimed at understanding the intersections in the marginalisation and subjugation of women in society. The study combines analysis of media contents with In-Depth Interviews to ascertain important stakeholders’ sensitivity to the role of the media in the promotion of disempowering narratives and stereotypes which have excluded women from public leadership positions by confining them to the private space. Utilising the interpretive research paradigm, the study is hinged on three theoretical frameworks, namely Framing Theory, Media Hegemony Theory, and Feminist Theory. Drawing on the principles of these theories, the study examines how media processes play out in the selection and publication of stories about women in political leadership positions in Nigeria, as well as how media publications promote and reinforce pre-existing socio-cultural gender norms. This study adopts the case study methodological approach, utilising Content Analysis and In-Depth Interviews(IDI).The data were thematically analysed using Atlas.ti 8, a computer software programme. The media articles and the respondents were selected using purposive and snowball sampling techniques respectively. The study reveals that while the media in Nigeria utilise both stereotypical and non-stereotypical frames in their portrayal of women in political leadership positions between 2007, 2011,and 2015, the quantity of publications focusing on them increased by 13% while usage of gender stereotypes in the publications reduced by 31%. Nevertheless, the publication of an average of six media articles per day across the four newspapers indicates that women in politics are still largely underrepresented in the Nigerian media sphere. Meanwhile, a cross-section of the respondents perceived media representations of women in politics as numerically marginalising, but not stereotypically tinged. Therefore, this study concludes that women in political leadership positions are still being framed out of the Nigerian media space, and that the media in Nigeria are sites for the reproduction of disempowering patriarchal discourses. Lastly, it also concludes that socio-cultural gender norms and economic challenges intersect with media representations in perpetuating the low participation of Nigerian women in politics.
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    Citizen journalism and alternative media in Zimbabwe: An ethnographic study of citizen participation, newsmaking practices and discourses at AMH Voices
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2019-12) Tshabangu, Thulani; Botma, Gabriel; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT:Technologies such as the internet and mobile smartphones allow citizens to play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news, thereby challenging the dominance of conventional media and professionalised ways of journalistic practices. This production-based ethnographic study investigates the operations of citizen journalism and alternative media in a repressive environment in Zimbabwe. It focuses on citizen participation, newsmaking practices and discourses at the citizen journalism and alternative media outlet of AMH Voices. The study is located within a specific context and timeframe, which isfrom 2014 to 2018, during which Zimbabwe’s multidimensional crisis elongated. Central to this study was an endeavour to demonstrate how the crisis supported the emergence of citizen journalism as well as how citizen journalists constructed and circulated alternative political narratives and counterhegemonic discourses of the crisis at AMH Voices. The theoretical point of departure in this study refers to the public sphere and critical political economy theories. The argument is that a counterpublic sphere emerged, in which AMH Voices was viewed as an oppositional public sphere that afforded marginalised citizens the opportunity to participate in journalistic processes. Participation in journalistic processes enabled ordinary citizens to express themselves and contest the hegemonic position by establishing counterhegemonic news frames, reframing news stories and setting new topics for discursive conflict and negotiation. The critical political economy theory (CPE) was applied to understand how ownership and control at AMH Voices impacted on editorial direction and output. The CPE theory was also applied to understand structural factors that constrained citizen journalism and alternative media in Zimbabwe. Data was collected through triangulated ethnographic methods of participant observation, interviews and critical discourse analysis. AMH Voices was under constant flux as citizen participation, newsmaking practices and discourses changed from the time of its inception in 2014 due to a change of context and organisational factors. The findings revealed that citizen participation occurred at three, namely levels of content production, decision making and public sphere deliberations. Content related participation enabled citizen journalists to contribute to news production processes in different ways and at different stages. Participation in decision making was through a reader representative who sat in the public editorial board to convey reader feedback and interests. Participation in public sphere deliberations was the most common form of citizen participation that occurred through user comments, where citizens engaged in peer to peer review of thoughts and ideas. The newsmaking practices at AMH Voices were structured, unstructured, hybrid and digital. The citizen news discourses were mostly framed in non-dominant perspectives using interpretive news writing styles to express alternative political narratives, challenge the status quo and advocate for radical political change. However, the study showed that citizen journalism and alternative media at AMH Voices were also influenced by contextual and structural pressures and influences, including conservative views on gender, which made it difficult to categorise it as an automatic or consistent counterpublic sphere.
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    From lab to fork? Press coverage and public (mis)perception of crop biotechnology in Uganda
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2018-12) Lukanda, Nathanael Ivan; Claassen, George; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores the structure of the controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Uganda. It focuses on how two local newspapers, the New Vision and the Daily Monitor, cover the subject, and on the public perception regarding a contested science (biotechnology), promoted and de-campaigned in the same pages simultaneously. The aim was to establish the different ways in which media coverage of biotechnology influences public perception of its products, especially crop (food) GMOs, in Uganda. It draws on the sciencein- society model, the public sphere and the media logic theoretical framework as a lens for understanding Uganda’s case in this global debate. The study used content analysis, a face-toface survey and in-depth interviews to obtain data and analyse Uganda’s intricate situation in terms of having GMOs on the market in the absence of an enabling law to commercialise what is in the country’s laboratories (labs). The key findings indicate that the coverage and perception of GMOs are shaped by the contours of capitalism, mistrust in government institutions and outright misinformation, all tied to personal and societal beliefs. The controversy is laced with discrimination, noticeable in the sharp-tongued accusations and counter-accusations. The debate has been described as a “distortion”, “deception”, “complexity”, “confrontation”, “murky” and an “opportunistic interaction”. In the two newspapers analysed for the purposes of this study, biotechnology was largely covered by freelancers, who were caught between evidence-based science reporting and providing a voice to all stakeholders on a subject newspaper editors consider peripheral in the light of audience and advertiser flight. Biotechnology is politicised to make it sellable. Legislation dominates the fault-finding elitist debate, driven mostly by events in other countries. Men are six times more likely to be used as sources in stories on biotechnology, but women’s chances of being quoted more than triple when they are quoted in the same story with men. Experts have limited impact as both scientists, and non-(pseudo) scientists are major sources of information on biotechnology, a mark of weakened cultural authority of science in the post-expert age. Biotechnology is a controversial subject in the newsroom and in society. Newspapers are part of the chain link for creating awareness, educating, sustaining debate and generating an ‘issues culture’. The scientist-journalists’ relationship determines how biotechnology is covered. Ethics, health, patents, contamination, sustainability and bioterrorism are risk concerns. Biotechnology remains a fulcrum for scientific, cultural, political and economic arguments. The debate on GMOs is also a clash of traditions between conservationists and their pro-GMO opponents. The youth are more likely to oppose GMOs in a debate from which farmers are hardly represented. There is stigmatisation of information sources, and yet a change in source of information and increase in knowledge are more likely to have a negative impact on individuals’ perceptions of the risks of GMOs. Public desire for face-to-face engagements with scientists is increasing, even though scientists’ technical opinions seem to be an inconveniencing luxury in the polarised debate. This study births an economic-media bicycle-chain model to tentatively explain the key issues in the debate. The study recommends the use of training in science communication to jump-start public engagement with biotechnology and other science subjects by inspiring academic involvement, increasing scientists’ branding, promoting scientific culture and stimulating public participation. The use of edutainment images/visuals in science communication could enhance discussions and weave science into the fabric of citizens’ day-to-day life as a form of accountability to the taxpayers who fund research. In addition, communicators should use traditional and digital media to harvest ideas to organise content, report about and engage with experts and their audience on new styles of storytelling that can be adopted to pave the way for dialogue on biotechnology and other science-related topics. Further, the study recommends the integration of a BrainLab in science institutions’ curriculum to equip future researchers with the creative communication skills to engage the media, policymakers and the public, as researchers get credit for mentoring their students in such outreaches; researchers can also get input in such forums through crowdsourcing and feedback for feedforward in future research. Such an approach is expected to promote team science communication and prevent science from getting lost through translation.