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International Journalism Research Project Launched in South Africa

Date Released: Thu, 12 December 2013 16:00 +0200

The most comprehensive South African journalism research project ever was launched this week as part of a global research project undertaken in eighty countries worldwide to understand better the changing role of journalism.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) endorsed the South African part of the project led by Prof Arrie de Beer of the Department of Journalism, University of Stellenbosch, and Prof Herman Wasserman, Deputy Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.

According to Prof Thomas Hanitzsch, of the University of Munich in Germany, who leads the Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS), the project deals with the way in which journalists view their role in a rapidly changing media, socio-economic and political environment.

Very little comparative research has been done globally on how journalists perceive the current changes and challenges that confront them within a global context. The WJS aims to address this knowledge gap directly by way of a specially designed questionnaire, which all journalists working in the South African news media are invited to complete. The findings will then be compared to those of the same survey administered in other parts of the world.

The study’s primary objective is to help journalists, media managers, policy makers and jour­nalism researchers better understand worldviews and changes that are taking place in the professional orientations of journalists, the conditions and limitations under which they operate, as well as the social functions of journalism in a changing world.

A joint effort of researchers globally, the project aspires to the highest standards of scientific collaboration, democratic participation and collective publishing.

Invitations have been sent to 384 editors and broadcast news channel heads in South Africa to gain permission for the WJS research team to conduct the study amongst their news staff. As soon as permission has been gained, journalists will be requested by email to complete an electronic e-questionnaire. The researchers hope to receive as many possible complete questionnaires as the sample frame is aimed at the total population of South African journalists working in the news media.

Information on the project is available at www.worldsofjournalism.org South African journalists are invited to participate in the project by visiting the website at www.imasa.org

Source: News24

Photo: Prof Herman Wasserman