Balancing tradition with new norms: The case of online newsmaking at the SABC

Deffor, Sally (2015) Balancing tradition with new norms: The case of online newsmaking at the SABC. African Journalism Studies, 36 (4). pp. 30-46. ISSN 2374-3670

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Scholarship on the impact specific digital technologies have on the practice of journalism from the different media contexts in Africa paints many interesting, yet varied pictures. It is evident that the specific levels of impact are subject to contextual nuances. Public broadcasting remains a crucial media player in many parts of the continent, and that is most often subject to significant influences from the local political, technological and sociocultural environment. This article explores how online newsmaking practices and formats at the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) ' one of Africa's foremost public broadcasters ' are shaped by the identified local factors. Employing a mix of key informant interviews and content analyses, the findings reveal that there is quite a strong traditional element to the online news production process, shaped by dominant old broadcasting routines and structures. That said, the online news team is increasingly being challenged to work with converged skillsets, innovative tools, and evolving mindsets that are shaped by distinctive digital influences. The study suggests that such an arrangement, while allowing newsmakers in this domain to meet the demands of the local media environment, does limit their ability to harness the full potentials of the digital platform.

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