When Your ‘Take-Home’ Can Hardly Take You Home: Moonlighting and the Quest for Economic Survival in the Zimbabwean Press
Using empirical data from in-depth interviews with journalists drawn from across the Zimbabwean mainstream press, this chapter examines how the Zimbabwean economic and political context has, over the years, nurtured an environment in which journalists ‘illicitly’ incorporate extra paid work (for other news organizations) into their daily work routines as a way of supplementing their poor salaries and surviving the economic challenges facing the country. The study argues that this practice, commonly referred as ‘moonlighting’, points to the challenges that the material realities of working for a poor salary imposes on African journalists. This situation not only differentiates African journalists from their counterparts in the economically developed countries of the North but also highlights how the conditions of material deprivation tend to subvert conventionalized notions of professionalism and ethical standards. The chapter further contends that moonlighting articulates the consequences of a restricted media environment in which stories by local journalists that criticize government policy and expose social ills mainly find space in ‘independent’ and foreign news organizations.
A version of this work appeared in African Communication Research 3(3), 431–450.
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