2. The term development journalism was first
coined in the 1960s at the Press Foundation
of Asia. Filipino journalists Alan Chalkley and
Juan Mercado were concerned that news
organizations were covering socio-economic
developments in a superficial way, with
journalists reporting government press
releases and quotes but leaving little space
for analysis or evaluation of development
3. Today development journalism looks at
conditions in developing states and how to
improve them. It exposes poverty worldwide
and helps to research the
causes, consequences and how to address
poverty in developing nations.
4. Development journalists bring attention to
issues that are overlooked or under-
represented by other media and by the
international political community. As
investigative reporters, they uncover the
stories within the stories, revealing the multi-
faceted nature of poverty.
5. A feature on development journalism may cover
the following issues: economic
development, agriculture and food
security, health, sanitation and
medicine, employment, education and
literacy, informational technologies
conditions, environmental sustainability, urban
and rural development, gender equality, etc. Its
main actors are ordinary people rather than
official figures; its emphasis is on
stability, partnership, harmony, and consensus.
6. The term development journalism is used to
refer to two different types of journalism.
The first type of development journalism
attempts to document the conditions within
a country so that the larger world can
understand them. Journalists are encouraged
to travel to remote areas, interact with the
citizens of the country, and report back.
7. This type of development journalism also looks
at proposed government projects to improve
conditions in the country, and analyzes whether
or not they will be effective. Ultimately, the
journalist may come up with proposed solutions
and actions in the piece, suggesting ways in
which they might be implemented. Often, this
type of development journalism encourages a
cooperative effort between citizens of the nation
and the outside world.
8. The second type of development journalism
can walk a thin line. On the one hand,
government participation in mass media can
help get important information spread
throughout the nation. Governments can
help to educate their citizens and enlist
cooperation on major development projects.
9. However, a government can also use the idea
of “development” to restrict freedom of
speech for journalists. Journalists are told not
to report on certain issues because it will
impact the “development” of the nation in
question, and therefore citizens are not
actually being given access to the whole
10. As a tool for social justice, development
journalism can be very valuable. By speaking
for those who cannot, a development
journalist can inform the rest of the world
about important issues within developing
11. …Looking at the strengths and weaknesses
of a country may also help identify ways in
which the nation can be helped. This style of
development journalism is a tool for
12. When development journalism is used as a
propaganda tool, however, it can become
very dangerous. Many citizens are taught
that the news is a reliable and useful source
of information. For example, within a
developing nation which has a corrupt
government, journalistic expose’ of the
government are extremely important for
13. The concept of development journalism in
Africa is caught up in the historical evolution
of the theory of development
This theory can be postulated in three
historical moments, each with its own basic
14. The first such moment was the
‘modernization’ paradigm. It dominated the
period from about 1945 to 1965.
It stressed the transfer of the technology and
socio-political culture of modernity from the
developed North to the Third World. It found
its coherent articulation in Everett M Rogers’
‘diffusion of innovations’ perspective.
15. The ‘modernization’ approach to
development, described as the ‘dominant
paradigm’ by Rogers, is represented by such
scholars as Walt W Rostow, Everett M Rogers
and Daniel Lerner, who posit development
communication as an engine of change from
the ‘traditional’ to the ‘modern’ society.
16. Here, the role of the mass media would be to
create awareness of, and interest in, the
innovations espoused by change agents. It is
clear that this mechanism was influenced to a
large extent by the two-step flow model of
media influence, with the notion of ‘opinion
leaders’ playing a key role in bringing about
modernizing practices among their fellow
17. Secondly, the diffusion approach looks to the
mass media as an ‘institutional’ nexus of
modernizing practices and institutions in
society, functioning as
‘watchdogs’, ‘policymakers’ and ‘teachers for
change and modernization’.
18. The second historical moment is the
This approach to development communication
(and therefore development journalism) is
associated with the elevation of the aspirations
of the newly independent nations of the Third
World for political, economic and cultural self-
determination and an ideological distancing
from Western forms of modernization.
19. In the tradition of dependency-
dissociation, Nkrumah of Ghana, Nyerere of
Tanzania and Kaunda of Zambia espoused
the ‘revolutionary theory’ of the press. This
‘theory’ entailed greater state control of the
media, a departure from the private
ownership of media evident in the colonial
20. Thus the idea of development journalism was
in the early 1960s associated with
independent journalism that provided
constructive criticism of government and its
agencies, informed readers how the
development process was affecting them,
and highlighted local self-help projects.
21. Subsequently, the third historical moment of
development communication emerged,
described as ‘emancipatory journalism.’
This third moment is variously referred to as
the ‘multiplicity’ or ‘another development’
22. This development journalism model sets
forth the importance of the cultural identity
of local communities and stresses the value
of democratization and participation at all
It points to a development strategy which is
not merely inclusive of, but largely emanating
from, the receivers or audience themselves.
23. The main strength of this kind of
developmental journalism is that it may be
seen as an extension of Paulo Freire’s
dialogical pedagogy, which emphasizes
participatory communication and
‘conscientisation’ of the people.
24. Emancipatory development journalism has
the following tasks: (i) to motivate the
audience to actively cooperate in
development; and (ii) to defend the interests
of those concerned.
The evolution of development journalism
could be summarized thus: from
modernization paradigm to dependency-
dissociation paradigm and most recently, the
emancipatory or participatory paradigm.
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