New research has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the financial viability of media outlets in southern Africa, with print media being the hardest hit.
Releasing the report, researcher Reginald Rumani, professor of journalism at Rhodes University in South Africa, said that the media in the region has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This crisis, especially the lockdown and restrictions on movements, forces viewers to consume broadcast news online,” Rumani said. “Newspapers and magazines were badly affected. And of course, with the drop in circulation came a huge drop in revenue and staff layoffs and a major restructuring of the newspaper industry across the region. A lot of papers were forced to go online. Done, stopped printing completely. The layoffs were dramatic.”
In Zimbabwe, Alpha Media Holdings, which publishes news day, ns Zimbabwe independent And Standard, stopped printing paper copies of its newspapers for months, putting all publications online. All its employees received a 50% pay cut, while those not directly involved in e-paper production were put on leave.
In South Africa, Associated Media Publishing stopped publishing its magazines, which included Cosmopolitan, home and comfort And women on wheels, while Caxton and CTP Publishers & Printers announced the closure of their magazine division.
south africa weekly mail and guardian Keeps publishing but says some advertisers have canceled their campaigns.
Rumney said that without a dramatic turnaround or external aid such as a donor fund, most media houses in southern Africa would not come out of the hole the coronavirus put them in.
Joanna Gadzikwa, a media professor in South Africa, said the pandemic had caused a “redefinition of the media industry” in southern Africa that could have detrimental effects on the region’s societies.
Gadzikwa said, “The decline in the death or prevalence figures is worrying. What do we think the way forward should be? Because news is something that cannot happen in our society. A lot is happening in Zimbabwe, South Africa. is, that if the issues are not looked at this way, then we are heading towards another catastrophe. The pandemic has turned everything upside down, but when things stay in [the] Dark, it becomes a big problem.”
The issue has greater resonance in Zimbabwe, where media advocates say officers have attacked journalists in the line of duty.
Nigel Nyamutumbu, head of Zimbabwe’s Media Alliance, said, “In the Zimbabwean context, you find that on the one hand, we have a money problem, we have a resource problem. We have a politics problem, a political will problem as well. , where you can actually talk about the statutory tools that were used to enforce the lockdown. Where you can use the weaponization of COVID-19 to curtail certain civil liberties in a really calculative way. for free expression, and that includes freedom of the media, which clearly affects the stability of the media.”
Nyamutumbu said media cannot thrive in an unfavorable operating environment.
And right now, even with COVID-19 slowly coming under control, southern Africa is not a conducive environment for print journalism.
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