African Journalism Review: Call for papers

Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies – Special Issue: Social media and journalism in Africa

Guest Editor: Chris Paterson, University of Leeds

This Special Issue of Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies will survey the intersection of SOCIAL MEDIA and JOURNALISM in Africa.  We hope to offer a venue for new empirical research and for the development of theory and analysis.  Publication will be in early 2013.

Around Africa tensions are evident between the rapid commercialization and deregulation of traditional media and increasing pressures for a compliant media discourse from commercial and state media proprietors.  Social media demonstrate an unprecedented ability for the politically engaged to both bypass and influence traditional information flows, but social media use faces unique circumstances through much of Africa, due to an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure, limited (though rapidly increasing) extra-urban mobile access, and bandwidth limitations in many areas.  There has been a rapid escalation in the numbers of people using Twitter to monitor and to disseminate information, and the use of mobile devices is also skyrocketing amid massive marketing campaigns dominated by a few multinational providers.

While use of social media may be less constrained by government control in Africa than elsewhere, its role remains largely untested in the context of general under-development and limited ICT penetration.  Signs of social change brought by leapfrogging mobile technology are evident around the continent, inspiring questions about the new nature of information exchange and citizenship. Crucial questions remain about whether the apparent efficacy of social media as a political organising tool beyond state control in north Africa has implications for the rest of the continent.

Authors may address the following questions, but other approaches and related topics are welcome:

– How have social media supplemented or replaced traditional information sources?

– How are social media and other new media being incorporated into processes of journalism in Africa?

– Are social media changing established flows of information in Africa and between Africa and the world?

– How do specific cases of social media and other ICT use in Africa compare with non-African cases?

– How are diasporic and/or exiled journalists employing social media?

– To what extent have social media been an empowering force in Africa?

– Are new forms of citizenship emerging in Africa as a result of social media?

– What new methodological challenges to the study of journalism in Africa are posed by social media or emerging forms of communications generally?

We are open to a variety of methodological approaches and geographic foci.  Articles should be 6000-8000 words and proposals for shorter commentaries are also welcome.  Style guidance is available here.  (Articles are to be submitted directly to the editor at the email below, not to this website).

Contact the editor of this issue with expressions of interest: Chris Paterson, University of Leeds –  c.paterson(at)leeds.ac.uk. The deadline for articles is July 15 2012, but earlier submissions are welcome.   All submissions will be peer reviewed, with notification of acceptance by September 1, and any revisions required by October 1 2012.

Authors may wish to present their work at a related panel of the UK African Studies Association annual conference in Leeds in September 2012. Contact Chris Paterson, above, if interested.