An assessment of the Zimbabwean print media adherence to the principles of partiality and objectivity in election reporting : the case of the 2013 Zimbabwean presidential elections.
Muringa, Tigere Paidamoyo.
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This study takes an exploratory approach in order to ascertain the extent to which the Herald and Newsday adhered to the journalistic principles of impartiality, fairness, and objectivity in the period leading to the July 31st 2013 presidential elections in Zimbabwe. The study used a qualitative methodology. It utilised a purposive sampling technique to collect news stories, headlines and extracts from the editorial section of the Herald and Newsday. The data was collected and gathered from the online archives of the two newspapers and then analysed using two content analysis techniques (content summative analysis and content latent analysis). The study argues that with the use of frames and agenda setting techniques (whether consciously or unconsciously) the news media when covering elections stories compromise the journalistic principles of objectivity, fairness, impartiality and truth-telling (that should ensure that they carry out their role in a professional manner). As such, the Herald and Newsday when reporting news in the period leading to the July 31st 2013 presidential elections, reported the election in a biased manner. Reports in the two newspapers were replete with editorial intrusions, reports of unconfirmed sources and clear attacks on other political candidates. Consequently, the two newspapers failed to a great extent to adhere to the principles of fairness, objectivity, impartiality and truth-telling. In this study, it materialised that the 2013 presidential elections exposed the polarisation that shaped the Zimbabwe media landscape even before the country attained its independence. It further revealed that this polarisation led to a manifestation of ideological warfare that was characterised by an array of partisan dichotomies, generating rough division and multifaceted biases. The credibility of print media (Herald and Newsday) in Zimbabwe is highly questionable as the press seeks to promote certain interests and ideologies while forfeiting its fundamental role as the fourth estate.