Bruce Mutsvairo (PhD Leiden University) is an Associate Professor in Journalism Innovation at UTS. He is interested in the evolving nature of journalism in non-Western societies. He also conducts research on the political and social implications of technological developments, particularly digital and social media, in the Global South. Between 2016–18, he published four edited books with Palrave Macmillan including the Palgrave Handbook of Media and Communication Research in Africa, one with Rowman and Littlefield (2018) and most recently, another with Amsterdam University Press (2019). Upcoming research contributions in 2019 include a monograph 'Media, Democracy and Human Rights in Zimbabwe' (Rowman and Littlefield) and an edited collection 'Data Journalism in Non-Western Societies: Comparative Perspectives' (Palgrave Macmillan). Between 2019–20, he will edit three special issue editions in top-tier journals: Media, Culture and Society (with Prof Helge Ronning), Digital Journalism (with Prof Saba Bebawi and Prof Peter Fray) and Information, Communication and Society (with Dr Massimo Ragnedda and Prof Kristin Skare Orgeret). His research has appeared in several leading journals including African Journalism Studies, Information, Communication and Society and Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, among several others. Bruce serves on the editorial board of African Journalism Studies and Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies. He earned a BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the honours college of Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 2004 before receiving two MA degrees in International Journalism (Cardiff) and Politics (Hull). Before joining UTS, he spent three years at Northumbria University, UK, where he led three modules: "Media Law & Ethics," "Risk & Conflict Reporting" and "Rethinking Journalism." He previously was an Assistant Professor in Digital Media at Leiden University.
Can supervise: YES
Mutsvairo, B & Bebawi, S 2019, 'Journalism Educators, Regulatory Realities, and Pedagogical Predicaments of the 'Fake News' Era: A Comparative Perspective on the Middle East and Africa', Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, pp. 107769581983355-107769581983355.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B & Ragnedda, M 2017, 'Emerging political narratives on Malawian digital spaces', Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 147-167.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Social media platforms are being considered new podiums for political transformation as political dictatorships supposedly convert to overnight democracies, and many more people are not only able to gain access to information, but also gather and disseminate news from their own perspective. When looking at the situation in several sub-Saharan African countries, it becomes clear there are various challenges restricting social media and its palpable yet considerably constrained ability to influence political and social changes. Access to the internet, or lack thereof, is a recognised social stratification causing a 'digital divide' thanks to existing inequalities within African and several other societies throughout the world. This article reports on a study that analysed a popular Facebook page in Malawi using a discursive online ethnographic examination of interactions among social media participants seeking to determine the level of activism and democratic participation taking shape on the Malawian digital space. The study also examined potential bottlenecks restraining effective digital participation in Malawi. The article argues that while social media's potential to transform societies is palpable, keeping up with the pace of transformation is no easy task for both digital and non-digital citizens. The study demonstrated social media's potential but also highlighted the problems facing online activists in Malawi, including chief among them digital illiteracy. Therefore, the digital sphere is not a political podium for everyone in Malawi as shown by the analysis of digital narratives emerging from the country's online environment, which opens its doors to only a tiny fraction of the population
Bosch, T & Mutsvairo, B 2017, 'Pictures, Protests and Politics: Mapping Twitter Images during South Africa's Fees Must Fall campaign', Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 71-89.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
News media have often been criticised for framing social protests in negative ways, particular through photojournalism. While news photographs can shape the public's understanding of social and political events, research has shown that journalists often portray dramatic, violent or sensationalist images. This paper shifts the focus from mainstream news media, to explore how citizens themselves visually frame protests. The paper provides results from a qualitative analysis of the images shared by Twitter users during the national Fees Must Fall (FMF) student protests in South Africa, which began in October 2015. The paper analyses the representational strategies of the protest images tweeted, questioning how these visual images produce accounts of the social world, and further, how those accounts are constructed as 'truthful' via their circulation in social media. Moreover, this analysis of the images circulated on Twitter and labelled using the hashtag Fees Must Fall (#FMF), explores the role played by images in strategic online communication within the campaign. An examination of this specific case contributes toward an understanding of social protest in an African context, particularly with respect to how new technologies and social media are increasingly being used as tools for political mobilisation.
Mutsvairo, B 2017, 'Review of Jane Dancan. A protest Nation: The Right to Protest in South Africa.', African Journalism Studies, no. 38, pp. 1-3.
Mutsvairo, B & Sirks, LA 2015, 'Examining the contribution of social media in advancing political participation in Zimbabwe', Journal of African Media Studies, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 329-344.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2015 Intellect Ltd Article.It normally is assumed that new media activism, in the wake of the 'Arab Spring' political protests in the Middle East, has the potential to promote and effectively enable social and political changes in contemporary societies. However, nowhere does the influence of the digital explosion appear somehow exaggerated as in the case of Africa, where lack of empirical evidence has seen policy-makers, commentators and journalists making extraordinary conclusions justifying the Internet's perceived potential to shape political processes on the continent. This article questions this notion through an online ethnographic assessment of Zimbabwean blogger Baba Jukwa's Facebook webpage, which became a prominent platform for the anti-Robert Mugabe establishment up until its sudden withdrawal from the web in August 2014. At its peak, the webpage became a meeting point for activists opposed to Zimbabwe's long-time president as the anonymous blogger shared what he (assuming he was a man) claimed were juicy state secrets with the rest of the world. His pronouncements especially ahead of the 2013 elections gave hope to opposition campaigners that the era of a man, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, was coming to an abrupt end. Calls were then made suggesting that the presence of the historic page was buttressing democratic participation as Zimbabweans from across the world converged on the blog discussing issues of mutual interest. The findings of our research, however, give a different picture, concluding rather that in spite of the page's ability to encourage Zimbabweans to openly discuss and share thoughts, there simply is no evidence that Baba Jukwa had helped facilitate increased democratic participation in the country.
Mutsvairo, B, Columbus, S & Leijendekker, I 2014, 'Reconnoitering the role of (citizen) journalism ethics in the emerging networked public sphere', Ecquid Novi, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 3-22.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2014, iMasa.Citizen journalism is emerging as a powerful phenomenon across Africa. The rise of digitally networked technologies is reshaping reporting across the continent. This change is technological (with social media platforms enabling new forms of publishing, receiving and discussing stories) as well as cultural, with idiosyncratic conventions emerging on these platforms. This study surveys the ethical beliefs of citizen journalists in several sub-Saharan African countries. The research showed that they are driven by a sense of social responsibility and a wish to inform their readers and the general public. Citizen journalists show a clear anti-authoritarian strain and an antipathy towards government regulation, yet most see themselves as subject to the same ethics that guide traditional journalism.
Leijendekker, I & Mutsvairo, B 2014, 'On digitally networked technologies, hegemony and regime durability in authoritarian regimes: A Zimbabwean case study', Information Communication and Society, vol. 17, no. 8, pp. 1034-1047.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study seeks to comprehend how the mobile phone and the Internet change power relations between citizens and the state, by assessing the possibilities they allow for in terms of Gramsci's theory of hegemony, which explores class struggles and domination. It illustrates this theoretical position with a case study analysis of Zimbabwe. This way, it hopes to give a better explanation of diverging outcomes in terms of empowerment of citizens vis-à-vis their government. The paper addresses the ambiguous theoretical and empirical relationship between digitally networked technologies (DNTs) and democratization. It argues for an analytical distinction between democratization of public discourse, democratization of opportunities for collective action, and democratization of political decision-making. Synthesizing theories of liberation technologies, theories of alternative and participatory discourse, and Gramsci's theory of hegemony, this paper warns for technological deterministic thinking about DNTs' impact on the democratization of discourse and the democratization of opportunity for collective action. It further contends that, even if both types of democratization are realized, the democratization of political decision-making does not necessarily follow. Applying this theoretical synthesis to the case of Zimbabwe, this paper argues that the proliferation of DNTs, although having powerful effects, is but one factor that has changed power relations in Zimbabwe since independence. DNTs expand the number and reach of alternative discourses and can be a key campaigning tool for opposition politics but the standards upheld in DNTs-enabled communication seem to foster further polarization. Expanding spaces for counter-hegemonic forces and increasing popular acceptance of human rights discourses have limited the manoeuvrability of the Mugabe regime. Whether this will suffice to bring about real political change, however, will depend on the regime's continued successfulne...
Mutsvairo, B 2013, 'No technology but still participatory journalists: Viewpoints from Zimbabwe's rural folks', Ejournalist : a Refereed Media Journal, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 42-58.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
It has generally been accepted that non-professional media actors empowered by novel digitally networked technologies are changing the media landscape in the West. In contrast, this is less obvious in the case of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent years, however, have seen the emergence of a diverse range of citizen media in Africa, empowered by digital technologies such as mobile phones, blogs, micro blogs, video-sharing platforms, and mapping. Through participant observation as well as a review of the existing research, this study aims to critically analyse and position the impact of citizen journalism in the African discourse, specifically exploring the Zimbabwean case, where citizen journalism appears uniquely non-integrated with traditional reporting as journalists continue to question the ethical basis for commercially engaging alternative form of journalism. While others like South Africa-based Mail and Guardian's 'Thought Leader' continue to coerce citizen participation, evidence on the ground show that conventional media in Zimbabwe is still skeptical about the prospects of embedding the works of citizen journalists into their mainstream packages. However, operating on their own, others like kubatana.net have thrived, further underscoring the perceived democratic value of citizen journalism. This research endeavors to examine and compare the citizen journalism narrative, contextualizing the largely uncovered rural setting in order to understand ways through which these communities communicate with little or no exposure to the Internet.
Mutsvairo, B 2013, 'Are new media technologies positively influencing democratic participation: Evidence from the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe.', Global Media Journal African Edition, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 181-200.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B & Columbus, S 2012, 'Emerging patterns and trends in Citizen Journalism in Africa: A case of Zimbabwe', Central European Journal of Communication, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 121-135.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
While it has generally been accepted that non-professional media actors empowered by novel digitally networked technologies are changing the media landscape in the West, this is less obvious in the case of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent years, however, have seen the emergence of a diverse range of citizen media in Africa, enabled by technologies such as mobile phones, blogs, micro blogs, video-sharing platforms and mapping. Through in-depth and focus-group interviews with selected experts and citizen journalism practitioners, as well as a review of the existing body of research, this study aims to identify emerging patterns and trends in African citizen journalism, paying particular attention to the Zimbabwean case. The research hopes to establish the notion that digital technologyenabled citizen journalism, although still restricted to a subset of African countries, provides a powerful counter-narrative to professional media that are often constrained, or even controlled, by national governments
Mutsvairo, B 2012, 'Elections and the Media in Post-Conflict Africa: Votes and Voices for Peace,Marie-Soleil Frere, 1st Edition (2011)', Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies, vol. 1, no. 12, pp. 255-258.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B 2012, 'War Veterans in Zimbabwe's Revolution: challenging neo-colonialism and settler and international capital by Sadomba W.Rochester, NY: James Currey, 2011', Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 170-171.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B 2011, 'Review of Lucia Saks, Cinema in a Democratic South Africa: The Race for Representation', Journal of African Media Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 295-297.
Alves, P & Mutsvairo, B 2019, 'Together and Separate? An exploratory study of political polarization on social media during the 2016 Brazilian political crisis' in Shaw, I & Selvarajah, S (eds), Reporting Human Rights, Conflicts and Peace-building: Critical and Global Perspectives, Palgrave.
Mutsvairo, B 2019, 'Comprehending digital disparities.' in Mutsvairo, B & Raggneda, M (eds), Mapping Digital Divide in Africa A Mediated Analysis, Amsterdam University Press, https://www.aup.nl/en/book/9789462986855/mapping-the-digital-divide-in-….
Experiences from various locations in several sub-Saharan African countries have been carefully selected in this collection with the aim of providing an updated account on the digital divide and its impact in Africa.
This chapter argues that while social media is leading to a great deal of virtual awareness, very little action is taken to end the plight of citizens, thereby weakening the real impact of social media activism. It focuses on opportunities and challenges facing online protests in the wake of growing social media prevalence in Zimbabwe. The chapter presents data collected from face-to-face discussions with members of the Zimbabwean communities in the North East of the UK to determine ways through which digital participation among expatriate Zimbabweans is contributing to both online and offline activism in the Southern African nation. It explores the apparent advantages and disadvantages of using social media platforms. The chapter seeks to demonstrate the real potential of cyberactivism insofar as strengthening or weakening increased online and offline democratic participation of Zimbabwean citizens is concerned.
Mutsvairo, B & Karam, B 2018, 'Key Developments in Political Communication in Africa' in Mutsvairo, B & Karam, B (eds), Perspectives on Political Communication in Africa, Palgrave, London, pp. 3-26.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The major purpose of this study is to conceptualise political communications beyond assessing the role of mass media in election campaigns in Africa. We are concerned with how the media influences participation in political decision-making, production, publication, procession and distribution of media messages among interactive citizens, probing ways through which these mechanisms influence political processes in Africa. We seek to scrutinise, within a pietistic political context, the manipulation of mass media messages, information-censorship techniques among the political elites, the discursive political potential of social media platforms and the plethora of a politicised public opinion, ascertaining end-to-end analysis of the history, rituals, concepts and theoretical insights of political communication within an African context. For several reasons, some of which are conscientiously analysed here, the formal ending of colonialism has been marked by a debilitating delay towards democratisation, with journalists and media professionals seeking to maintain allegiance to the ruling party, which normally controls the media, in return for either political protection or journalistic privileges.
Mutsvairo, B 2018, 'If I were a Carpenter: Reframing debates in Media and Communication Research in Africa' in Mutsvairo, B (ed), Palgrave Handbook for Media and Communication Research in a Decolonising Africa, Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 3-18.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Moyo, L & Mutsvairo, B 2018, 'Can the subaltern think? The Decolonial turn in Media Research in Africa' in The Palgrave Handbook of Media and Communication Research in Africa, Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 19-40.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This handbook attempts to fill the gap in empirical scholarship of media and communication research in Africa, from an Africanist perspective.
Ragnedda, M & Mutsvairo, B 2018, 'Digital Inclusion: Empowering People through Information and Communication Technologies' in Ragnedda, M & Mutsvairo, B (eds), The Digital Inclusion. An International Comparative Analysis, Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland, US, pp. 7-14.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Ragnedda, M & Mutsvairo, B 2017, 'Demystifying Digital Divide and Digital Leisure' in McGillivray, D, McPherson, G & Carnicelli, S (eds), Digital Leisure Cultures: Critical Perspectives, Routledge, pp. 107-119.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Mutsvairo, B 2017, 'Zimbabwe' in Steckman, L & Andrews, M (eds), Online around the World:A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Internet, Social Media, and Mobile Apps, ABC-Clio Greenwood, pp. 351-355.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'Politics and the Pursuit of Propaganda in Zimbabwe's State Media: A Case of the The Herald online' in Mutsvairo, B (ed), Perspectives on Participatory Politics and Citizen Journalism in a Networked Africa: A Connected Continent., Palgrave Macmillan, Germany, pp. 157-170.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In this chapter, the author has endeavoured to first problematize The Herald newspaper's role in Zimbabwean society. The first issue lies within the institution itself. Its role and responsibility to provide citizens with reliable news content have all been severely questioned by critics at home and abroad because of its traditional, openly pro-government stance. The second issue, which is related to the first, is associated with the newspaper's ownership structure, which presumably forces editors to pointedly paint a positive picture on stories involving Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) officials even when unprejudiced scrutiny is needed, while anything that seeks to dehumanize, discredit or demonize the opposition attracts instant attention and is decidedly disseminated at whatever cost. The author, therefore, decided to formulate one central research question: To what extent do The Herald's historical ties with ZANU-PF contribute to its perceived biased coverage of news events?
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'Recapturing Citizen Journalism: Processes and Patterns' in Mutsvairo, B (ed), Participatory Politics and Citizen Journalism in a Networked Africa: A Connected Continent, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 1-15.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B & Harris, S 2016, 'Rethinking mobile media tactics in protests: A comparative case study of Hong Kong and Malawi' in Wan, R (ed), Mobile Media, Civic Engagement and Civic Activism in Asia. Private Chat to Public Communication, Springer, Germany, pp. 215-231.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This chapter examines two case studies–the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, and the July 20th protest in Malawi—to explore whether and how political activism through smartphone dissent networks enhances civic engagement. By probing the vitality, potentiality and ability of new communication and technological changes driving online civil action across the African continent, we explore what lessons countries can take from digitally-negotiated civil disobedience protests. The chapter will also discuss and theorize mobile media activism within social and geo-political realms, analyzing specific cases from Asia about the extent to which they have implications for understanding the changing dynamics of mobile media activism in sub-Saharan Africa. This chapter enriches and adds new dimensions to the current debates on the role of mobile media in political activism in a comparative light.
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'Dovetailing Desires for Democracy with New ICTS' Potentiality as Potent Platform for Online Activism' in Mutsvairo, B (ed), Digital Activism in the Social Media Era: Critical Reflections on Emerging Trends in sub-Saharan Africa, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 1-20.
Alinejad, D & Mutsvairo, B 2015, 'Dispatches from the dispersed: Comparatively analysing internet-based diasporic journalism within Zimbabwean and Iranian contexts' in Ogunyemi, O (ed), Journalism, Audiences and Diaspora, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 171-186.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'Why journalistic 'balance' is failing the public', The Conversation.
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'What is News?', The Conversation.
Mutsvairo, B 2016, 'Can Robert Mugabe be tweeted out of power?', The Guardian.
Mutsvairo, B 2015, 'No one should expect a Twitter Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa: At least for now', Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation.