The Reconfiguration of News Work in Southern Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Phillip Santos, Admire Mare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the reconfiguration of news work during the COVID-19 pandemic in selected newsrooms in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It looks at how newsrooms operating in different media systems responded to the structural impediments that accompanied the imposition of lockdown measures. Using technology-mediated interviews, the article investigated how COVID-19 reconfigured news work in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe and how this was shaped by contextual factors in each of these countries. Our study found that COVID-19 severely affected news work in terms of newsgathering, processing, distribution and the funding of media organizations. It created a situation where most news sources were unreachable, marginalized groups and communities excluded, government unaccountable, and advertising revenue reduced. To remedy the situation, media organizations in Southern Africa responded by accelerating the adoption of digital media technologies, by-passing advertising agencies, launching new content distribution channels, implementing paywalls and subscriptions and monetizing virtual events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1410
Number of pages20
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • disruption
  • innovation
  • journalism practice
  • Namibia
  • Newswork
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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