Media Viability, Covid-19 and the ‘Darwinian’ experience in Southern Africa

About the Chapter: Dralega, C.A. (2022). Media Viability, Covid-19 and the ‘Darwinian’ Experience in Southern Africa: Glimpses from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In: Dralega, C.A., Napakol, A. (eds) Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

Picture credit: Unsplash

Political economy predicates suggest that media viability is about the influence and balance between politics and economics of media systems. It is about survival and control. This logic informs this study, which seeks to gain insights into the impact of Covid-19 on media viability in Southern Africa. For decades, the media industry in Southern Africa, and indeed globally, has been trapped in an existential struggle—experiencing, for instance, the steady demise of traditional business models amidst rapid technological developments and proliferation of digital communication, waning trust in legacy media, and an unconducive political and legislative environment. In this qualitative study, we learn from leading industry experts from eight countries about the wide-ranging impact and paradoxes of the pandemic on the media industry—a phenomenon some have referred to as ‘a Darwinian moment’ or ‘media extinction event’. In this study media-house size and ownership, trustworthiness and ability to fully switch to digital operations were key to survival, as was the need for newsroom and work-form restructuring. The study raises concerns over the Covid-19-exacerbated dangers regarding journalists’ welfare and cautions against the deepening threats to press freedom, the further marginalisation of minority groups and the relegation of the media’s public interest role.

Get access to the full chapter here.

About this book: Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa

Springer Link. Picture credit: Unsplash.

Editors: Carol Azungi Dralega (PhD) and Angella Napakol (PhD)

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural, and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent. The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more. This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners, and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.

Find all 16 chapters, Open Access, here.

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