Zimbabwe’s print media coverage of Gender Based Violence: An analysis of the factors influencing journalists’ coverage of Gender-Based Violence issues
Keywords:gender-based violence, GBV reporting, journalistic agency, print media, Zimbabwe
Purpose: This paper interrogates factors influencing journalists' coverage of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Global South, specifically in Zimbabwe. The study analyses mainstream daily newspapers the Chronicle and NewsDay, is motivated by the numerous pressing GBV issues and cases affecting Zimbabwe, chief among them child marriages, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, largely against women. Therefore, the expectation is that with all these challenges on women and children, GBV stories will dominate the front pages of newspapers and airwaves in Zimbabwe as the media plays its role of mitigating the negative perceptions on issues of gender-based violence.
Methodology: The study adopted a qualitative research approach and utilised qualitative content analysis for the news articles and in-depth interviews with journalists and editors.
Findings: The study reveals that there is generally low coverage of GBV stories in both media, with rape dominating such stories. Further, law enforcement officers are major sources in GBV stories, rather than the victims. Key factors identified include lack of prioritisation of GBV stories by newsrooms, lack of journalistic skills to cover GBV issues, and a culture of silence within society on such issues.
Originality: Combining journalistic agency, the social construction of reality, and political economy of media theories in this paper helps unravel how gender-based violence issues remain absent in the order of priorities within Zimbabwean newsrooms, leading us to conclusions that GBV remains de-prioritised rendering the media ineffective in the fight against the GBV.