JCMR Articles 11.2

Commemorative journalism under a polarised and repressive media environment - The case of journalists’ obituaries in Zimbabwe

March 31, 2020
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Abstract Using textual analysis to examine obituaries written following the death of veteran journalists, this study discovers that Zimbabwean scrib...

Abstract

Using textual analysis to examine obituaries written following the death of veteran journalists, this study discovers that Zimbabwean scribes use collective memory to legitimate their credibility crisis ridden profession. Reflecting on the lives of the departed, they demonstrate that journalism is not only a noble profession, but a fourth estate of the realm for which they endure trials and tribulations with commitment, dedication and passion – sticking to basic journalistic values and principles. Through a narrative of continuity, they legitimate themselves by claiming that this is the legacy left by fallen journalists whose personal success came from abiding by basic journalistic principles. In addition, obituaries become a tool to practice autonomy protection boundary work by: delegitimising state media ownership and control, conflation of editorial and advertising departments as well as setting a boundary between publishers and managers. Furthermore, they use obituaries to delegitimise foreign media ownership, differentiate proper journalism from public relations and improper reporting. Lastly, the study discovers that in the face of media polarisation, Zimbabwean journalists use obituaries to build a common interpretive community identity defined by a nation building role. Defying ideological affiliations, they call upon young journalists to abide by the profession’s basic tenets.

 

Key Words: Zimbabwe Interpretive Community; Collective Memory; Journalistic Authority; Repression

Author’s Bio

*Danford Zirugo is with the Department of Media and Journalism Studies, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Nordre Ringgade 1, Denmark. He is an Erasmus Mundus Journalism, Media and Globalisation Masters graduate who studied at Aarhus University in Denmark and City, University of London in the United Kingdom.His research interests revolve around meta-journalistic discourse: an amalgamation of various journalistic conceptual frameworks: interpretive community, paradigm repair, boundary work, collective memory.

 

JCMR Journal of Communication and Media Research, Vol. 11, No. 2, October 2019, pp. 120 - 132

 

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