Research Articles

Press Freedom, Professionalism and Proprietorship: Behind the Zimbabwean Media Divide



The interplay between press freedom, professionalism and proprietorship in Zimbabwe is the focus of this paper. Zimbabwean news media are increasingly becoming an antidemocratic force owing to the political, economic and professional problems that are continuously bedevilling the profession of journalism in the country. Public and private media owners have created ‘regimes’ that undermine professional and ethical roles of journalists. What is even more troubling is that the country’s journalists have resigned to these developments, seeing them as ‘normal’, and finding it natural that they have to adjust their professional roles to suit the new environment. Whilst the journalist cannot take all the blame, the state and media proprietors are publicly mandated to promote and uphold the highest standards of professional journalism. This means that levels of remuneration and benefits must not be used to defeat professional journalism and ethics. However, my findings importantly also showed that far from being docile victims of the hostile media environment obtaining in the country, most Zimbabwean journalists have ‘resisted’, ‘rebelled’ and are developing sophisticated ways of negotiating the pressures exerted on them by private and public media proprietors. My argument is that free and open media practices are important for democratic processes to fully take root in Zimbabwe.

Keywords: Zimbabwe crisis, press freedom, media proprietorship, professional journalism, African journalism, Zimbabwe democracy

How to Cite: Mano, W. (2017) “Press Freedom, Professionalism and Proprietorship: Behind the Zimbabwean Media Divide”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 2(0). doi: