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An evaluation of constructive journalism in Zimbabwe: A case study of The Herald’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

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The coverage of crises such as the global health pandemic, COVID-19, is to a large extent guided by national interest, journalistic culture and editorial policies of media outlets. This article argues that the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, in Zimbabwe deployed constructive journalism as an approach to report COVID-19. Constructive journalism is about injecting positive angles into news reports while abiding by the core news values of accuracy, impartiality and balance. The findings reveal that constructive journalism elements of solutions orientation, future orientation, and explanation and contextualization were frequently deployed by The Herald to advance a safe nation narrative whose objective was to prevent public hysteria in the face of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The paper concludes that the deployment of constructive journalism in less developed countries like Zimbabwe to inspire hope through positive psychology in the face of global crises does not always yield the intended outcomes.

Keywords: COVID-19; Zimbabwe; authoritarian media systems; constructive journalism; critical discourse analysis; health reporting; moral panics; reader’s feedback

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000097692525North-West University

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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