The BRICS journalist within the changing dynamics of the early 21st century

Dated Published: February 2015

This special issue of African Journalism Studies provides the first collection of articles with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) journalists’ views on their profession and practice within the changing techno-economic-political-social dynamics of the early 21st century. The strategy for the study was to understand these countries’ media systems through the human dimension, taking a view from within, from the subjective world of the journalist-practitioners themselves.

To the best of our knowledge, no study has considered the journalists of the BRICS countries together. Even recent global comparative projects, such as the global journalist for the 21st century (Weaver and Willnat 2012) and the first phase of the Worlds of journalism study (Hanitzsch et al. 2012) did not include journalists from all the BRICS countries. Moreover, both projects focused on traditional mainstream news media, and this did not provide a sufficient understanding of contemporary journalists and global trends in journalism in the context of the omnipresent digitalisation of their work and lives (Pasti, Ramaprasad and Ndlovu 2015, 1). Our study fills this gap; it includes journalists from all the BRICS countries as well as from digital news outlets, and adds the dimension of metro-provincial city differences (metro cities were the capital and second metropolis, while provincial cities were those removed from the capital). The choice of both types of cities was made based on their importance in the economic or geo-political development of the country, but also very importantly their diversity in terms of traits such as smaller size, geographical dispersion and regional/local flavour.

In essence, this issue of AJS aims to share with its readers the findings on the profession and practice of BRICS journalists, as reported by them, but also to attract attention to this still peripheral zone of comparative research. These growing economic powers, the BRICS countries, are where media and the journalism profession are on the rise, and this volume gives their journalism and journalists their due.

Within the overall purpose of presenting BRICS journalists’ profession and practice, from their viewpoint, in the context of the changing dynamics of the early 21st century (where applicable), the study examined opined differences and similarities between online and traditional (offline) news media and their journalists, and also compared findings between metros and provincial cities. The digitalisation of the news media in some countries and the booming growth of online news were the impetus for the online/offline comparison. Possible differences in their respective infrastructure, politico-economic power bases (Li et al. 2013) and socio-cultural influences were the reason for the metro/provincial city comparison.

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