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Masters in Digital Journalism Studies

Are you interested in the future of digital journalism and how business models in the media have changed? Here’s an opportunity to research the future of African and South African media and explore how journalism in the digital age might be funded.

Investigative journalism and most forms of specialised beat journalism are expensive to do well. Digital technology has disrupted the business models of print journalism, and has reshaped radio’s and TV’s audiences and revenues.  Globally, local journalism has come under particular pressure, as smaller radio stations and community newspapers struggle to remain financially viable while providing coverage of important social and political issues.  

From 2016, the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes is offering a specialised research Masters degree that looks at the future of journalism in Africa and South Africa in the context of this digital disruption. This new Masters programme, by coursework & half-thesis but with some course work components, is for students who want to think hard about how media in South Africa and Africa, -- and analytical reporting in particular -- can be funded in the future. As part of a newly established Digital Media Diversity Project, we aim to develop research that looks at:

  • Understanding how media consumption is changing and how audiences are fragmenting as social media becomes an ever-larger part of most people’s daily media intake.
  • Exploring what digital means in terms of the craft of journalism, i.e. what do journalists need to do differently to appeal more to online audiences? What is the role of data-driving journalism? Do journalists need basic coding skills? Overall, what new journalistic skillsets and dispositions are ‘foundational’ in the digital age?
  • Exploring revenue models for news and investigative/analytical/in-depth journalism in South Africa in particular, and in Africa more generally and, drawing from global best practice, developing plausible new revenue models for news media.  

Students who are interested in doing research in any of the above areas, or on specific areas such as crowd-funding and other forms of public support for journalism; state and other forms of direct and indirect subsidises for journalism; or work on various micro-payment systems, or paid content models, are encourage to apply for this Masters.


The Masters will be offered as a part-time option, over two to three years. Full time study is also possible, by arrangement. It is envisioned that there will be regular online discussion sessions and at least two 1-week ‘block release’ sessions at Rhodes University. (These intensive full-week sessions are currently planned for March 2016 and September 2016, with the latter week including attending the Highway Africa Conference and the planned Digital Media Diversity Colloquium). 

Besides these two weeks of intensive learning and sharing at Rhodes, we are also exploring the possibility of an optional international ‘field trip’ for those students who are able to fund such travel. We are also exploring collaborations with institutions in the Netherlands and the UK in terms of some elements of the course work component of the Masters programme.


Because this is a research-based Masters, prospective students should ideally have at least an Honours degree in a relevant discipline, i.e. social science or economics. Preference will be given to those with a journalism or media studies postgraduate degree. Alternatively, students need to have a good undergraduate degree and need to have done some advanced research.

The initial intake is limited to between 6 and 9 students, and it is anticipated that the selection process will be competitive.


Fees for the part-time Masters are likely to be about R10,000 per year in 2016 and a little more in 2017 and 2018 (plus a foreign national levy for those students who are not South African citizens). Students will also be required to pay for travel and accommodation for the two compulsory block release weeks in March and August 2016 for example, and there may be some fees and cost attached the research work. If the international field trip takes place, in 2016 or 2017, there will be the costs for that travel, visas etc.


If you are interested in the future of journalism, and in exploring revenue and business models that might allow journalism to flourish, and you would like to express an interest in joining our inaugural Masters class in 2016, please contact the Post-Graduate Administrator, ammadmin@ru.ac.za by email.

Please include, in your email enquiry:

  1. An updated CV;
  2. A brief motivation as to why you should be considered for our inaugural Digital Journalism Studies Masters programme.

There is no need to formally apply to Rhodes at this stage.  If, on the basis of your expression of interest and your CV, we feel you would have a good chance of getting in to the new Masters, we will then invite you to apply formally to Rhodes.

We will reply to any expression of interest in this Masters within two weeks of receiving your email. 

Next intake is planned for 2019, subject to confirmation and availability of staff.  If it is run in 2019, applications for 2019 will open in August 2018.

Last Modified: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 11:18:31 SAST