“In their own words”: Journalistic mediation of electoral conflict in polarized Zimbabwe

Admire Mare, Stanley Tsarwe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines Zimbabwean print journalists’ everyday newsmaking experiences during the 2008 disputed harmonized elections. The article is sequel to our article (Tsarwe and Mare 2019), which exclusively relied on qualitative content analysis of a state-owned weekly (The Sunday Mail) and two private-owned weeklies (The Financial Gazette and The Zimbabwe Independent) to show how news articles were framed in ways that could have escalated political polarization and hatred among different political groups. While the three newspapers remain our sample as in our previous paper, in this chapter we rely exclusively on verbalized personal accounts (in-depth interviews) from journalists who reported on the various stages of the electoral conflict, with specific focus on how newsmaking cultures and other structural forces (such as influence from owners and politicians) may have driven Zimbabwean journalists to behave in the manner they did. The chapter, thus, provides compelling evidence on how various micro- and macro-structural factors contributed to the dissemination of hate speech, propaganda and “war” journalism discourses in a highly polarized Zimbabwe. We argue that although journalists from the three weekly newspapers have the agency to avoid the use of “war journalism frames”, they are embedded in socio-political, organizational and institutional structures, which militate against the realization of conflict-sensitive journalism.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedia, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationConceptual and Empirical Considerations
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000361346
ISBN (Print)9780367360283
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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