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Online Harassment of Journalists in Zimbabwe: Experiences, Coping Strategies and Implications

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New Journalism Ecologies in East and Southern Africa

Abstract

This chapter examines the safety risks faced by Zimbabwean journalists as they conduct their day-to-day professional work in online spaces. Given that journalists in Africa are increasingly utilising and adopting social media tools for news production and distribution, it is timely to examine the drawbacks of using these digital technologies. The chapter contributes to the growing scholarship that unpacks how different social actors such as government officials and the public are using digital tools to silence and discipline journalists. It analyses the nature of online harassment and the coping strategies employed by journalists as they navigate the difficult terrain. This study uses the concepts of reciprocal journalism and audience engagement to demonstrate the experiences of Zimbabwean journalists with online harassment. Data is drawn from interviews with 18 participants that include 15 journalists and 3 digital security trainers. Findings demonstrate that online harassment is a huge problem in a politically polarised context such as Zimbabwe. This has undermined the efforts of journalists to engage with audiences in online spaces.

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Ndlovu, M., Khupe, N.A. (2023). Online Harassment of Journalists in Zimbabwe: Experiences, Coping Strategies and Implications. In: Matsilele, T., Mpofu, S., Moyo, D. (eds) New Journalism Ecologies in East and Southern Africa. Palgrave Studies in Journalism and the Global South. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-23625-9_6

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