BOOK TITLE: UNDERSTANDING HEALTH CRISES AND THEIR INPRINT ON JOURNALISM AND MEDIA DISCOURSES IN AFRICA
When the COVID-19 broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the close of 2019, no
oneimagined its rapid global spread and devastating impact – especially on the African media ecology. By the end of June, there were over 10 million confirmed global cases and over 500,000 confirmed deaths in 215 countries (WHO Situation Report July 2020). Declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation on 30 January 2020, countries around the world embarked on public health measures to curb the spread. Lock-downs of different proportions and motives have been instituted in most countries and with numerous consequences.
Media and public (health and crisis) communication has been at the core of the fight against COVID-19 underscoring its role in providing quick, accurate and preventive information to combat fear, restore calm and order and save lives by causing adherence to recommended behaviour change in critical times of crisis. But the implication goes far beyond the need for timely information. Reporters without Border (Tracker 19) and UNESCO recently highlighted the new dangers journalists and media face during COVID-19 including: misinformation, draconian bills/legislation, harassment/intimidation, arrests and jail, withheld advertising, murder of journalists, among others.
While, Media discourses around health crises may reflect a global scope, such discourses in Africa constitute unique features, struggles, histories and challenges and ultimately strategies specific to the continent and also country specific. This collection of empirical research explores not just the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic but also takes a broad approach to understanding discourses around health and crisis communication on the continent of Africa. The interest is to harness reflected continental media discourses surrounding political, social, economic, technological, religious, gendered and cultural and systemic developments around health crises including but not limited to HIV/AIDS communication, Malaria, Ebola virus pandemic, COVID-19.
Within this context, this book aims to offer novel insights into media discourses around health and crisis communication on the African continent through rigorous and critical empirical and theoretical engagement. The chapters’ expected focus is on 4 interrelated themes: a) Impact on Journalism Professional Practice, b) Media content/discourse, c) Audience studies and d) Diasporic discourses, pandemic and health communication.
Themes include but are not limited to:
Economic impact of pandemics on media houses and financial sustainability. How do health crises affect the operations and routines of journalists? What economic discourses have arisen during the pandemic and how are media houses and journalists adapting?
Political impact. In what ways have health crises impacted the media politically. i.e. Censorship, restrictions, government dominance of news flows, bans, jail, arrests, violence against journalists, bills enacted against ‘fake news’, government subsidies (for example during Covid-10, etc?
Technology and the role of Social Media during health crises. How/to what extent does technology benefit journalistic work? Public communication/audiences? Citizen journalism in times of pandemics? What are the prospects and challenges associated with technology? Social media usage in seeking and sharing information during health crises.
Remote journalism what are the advantages and challenges associated with quarantine (for example during the COVID-19 ‘lock-down’) in terms of accessing sources and performing watchdog or investigative journalism?
News coverage with a focus on News Content and discourse analysis, including rhetorical analysis. What has been the focus, news frames, agendas and/or discourses in the media during health crises? Cross-cutting issues such as gender, social justice, ethics, fake news, sources, community media, international flows, etc are also of interest.
Key cross cutting issues may intersect public communication, stigma, prejudice, discrimination and inequalities, cultural and health beliefs about diseases/viruses. As well as preventative strategies by communities or governments, behaviour change communication, crisis and risk communication, perceived risk and severity and its impact on pandemic/disease prevention, misinformation, disinformation and behaviour change among others.
Audience studies – includes audience perspectives around COVID-19 and other pandemics, audience news consumption and production, sources, public sphere discourses, public opinion on government policies during and after pandemics and affected groups’ experiences. This may also include perspectives from health specialists like doctors, nurses and so on.
Diasporic media discourses during COVID-19. Representations in mainstream media of diasporic groups, communities. Discourses on immigration, ‘the Other’, symbolic annihilation, transnational flows, social media and media consumption and production patterns as critical pandemics tend to have global impacts and implication.
Comparative studies along with other methodologically innovative approaches that critically engage a wide range of (media, health communication and crisis communication) theories are particularly welcome.
Abstract submission: September 15.
Notification of acceptance: September 30
Article submission deadline: January 15
Double Peer-reviewed returned to authors – February 30
Publishing: July 2021
Instructions for abstract submission:
Abstract 300 words
Author Bio 200 words
Page 1 should clearly indicate: Title, Author(s) names and Affiliation. (Submissions in Pdf format). Submitted on 15 September 2020.
Carol A. Dralega (PhD) is an Associate Professor at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University, Norway where she teaches on the Global Journalism Program. Carol holds a PhD from the Media Studies Institute, University of Oslo.
Angella Napakol (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Communication Department at Uganda Christian University. Angella holds a PhD from Center for Communication, Culture and Media Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa