Ratidzo Midzi (MMSS)
An evaluation of the Safety of Journalists working for the state owned and controlled media: A Case of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
This chapter outlines the techniques and methods used in the collection of data during the research. It also explains procedures and sampling techniques used in carrying out the inquiry. The discussion centres on the research design, presentation of data and analysis. There is also an examination of how ethical issues were handled to guarantee safety and protection of contributors and their interests.
Research Approach/ design
The qualitative approach is the principal plan for executing this research. It is comprehensive and gives general information of how the whole study was carried out. Creswell (2009) defines a research design as a proposal of formula for data collection and analysis. It provides the guiding structure of carrying out research. The main thrust of this research is to asses the safety concerns of journalists in the state controlled media and their effects on news production therefore using qualitative research gives in depth information to the research. Braun and Clarke (2013) argue that a qualitative approach to the research is interactive and informative. The researcher interacted with participants on social media platforms and informal gatherings leading to new encounters and interpretations of how it feels like to be a part of state media institutions in a post elections period. Bryman (2012) posits that there is an element of selectivity of issues of cross-examination in a way that best reveals the study purpose guided by the research questions. The research was highly selective of sources of information. This was mainly because within the state institutions, there could be agents of the state and getting information from them would distort the results to justify or condemn what is going on so for objectivity the researcher had to stick to a selected few who in one way or the other could give information that fulfils the objectives of the study.
Braun and Clarke (2013) argue that qualitative research offers sense and meaning not statistics or figures, does not offer a sole answer without claiming to be absolute. In this research, the experiences of journalists were to be explored to assess what triggered them and how the reporters have resorted to conducting themselves to avoid harassment or guarantee their safety in all quotas. However, the voice of one journalist cannot be a blanket cover for all thus the researcher engaged with more journalists and ensured that there was no information repetition thereby getting to the depths of the research.
The qualitative nature of this study is better defined through the study design and data collection methods which mirror the basics of qualitative research. Furthermore, data was selected from events that occurred on their own with individuals not knowing that one day they would be put under study. This serves the purpose of research where journalists and their experiences add value to the study. The researcher picked a few cases of harassment within ZBC and tried to understand what had really happened without judging the respondents. There was a realisation that there are preconceptions about journalists in ZBC so there was need to dig deeper into the challenges faced and the effects of these challenges. With a footing of past events of assault and dismissals, the researcher built a portfolio that was to be used for reference when carrying out the search and indeed a lot of information hidden from the public was found. The motive behind raising past events was to allow the research to go into the hidden information that not everyone has accessed.
Bryman (2012) argues that qualitative research is most suitable when there is a gap in studies carried out and there is less information known to the people or where ignorance on a certain issue is rampant. The attempt to understand participants is what is crucial. The experiences of journalists at ZBC are rarely discussed and there is a literature gap when it comes to safety concerns of this group of people. Engaging with the journalists brought to light a lot of hidden issues that news stories and published literature has not interacted with thus proving the need to use qualitative research.
Bryman (2012) further argues that human experience cannot be measured thus the use of qualitative research is essential. In carrying out this study, the researcher knew that there is no measure to how much someone has suffered and no figure can be placed to that but rather the extent of the damage can be noted in the present conduct of the participants and so qualitative research gives the chance to interact with the why, how and impossible questions which allowed the researcher to walk in the shoes of the respondents in an imaginary world.
This research aims at giving answers to what caused harassment of journalists at ZBC, who harassed them and what the effects of the harassment in their conduct as professionals were like. As a result, the researcher had to use a descriptive case study as a research design. A research design is a programme that gives guidance to the researcher in data collection and interpretation (Ngulube, 2009). Yin (1994) postulates that a descriptive case study brings basic materials on a particular issue then try to dig deeper to explain why certain things have happened after engaging with the participants. The researcher noted with concern that journalism as a profession is marred with a lot of violence against practitioners. Of the stories that were read from the press, rarely were there any stories about journalists from the state media thus the researcher sought to find out what the state of affairs is and if they are victims. There has to be an explanation of how and why they are victimised. This allowed the researcher to paint a clear picture of what is happening in the state owned and controlled ZBC. Choosing ZBC alone gave depth to the study and this avoided generalisation of issues.
The population constituted of journalists in the state broadcaster that is ZBC. The population chosen is from June 1, 2018 to 1 August 2019 as it covered the pre-election and post-election period and the uprisings thereof. It was noted in the background that a lot of impunities that happen to journalists are during elections or demonstrations against the state. As a result, the research mainly targeted the 2018 harmonised elections era in Zimbabwe which came with a lot of disputes, demonstrations and arguments. Journalists are most exposed since they use cameras and sound equipment that attracts the attention of people during gatherings so choosing that period allowed the researcher to notice trends and compare them with previous reports.
Unit of analysis
The actual sample consisted of four journalists from ZBC. These four journalists had safety concerns during their tenure at ZBC, they represented the whole population of journalists at ZBC who are affected by similar safety concerns. The researcher therefore gave pseudo names to the participants due to the nature of the information gathered for the sake of their safety and security. Of the four journalists, two are still with ZBC, one passed away and the other was fired from the institution.
Conducting research on the whole population is time consuming and can cause information saturation and repetition. Trochim (2016) argues that working with a sample that gives the intended information saves time and resources. Stephanie (2015) posits that it saves time and resources to work with a specific sample to represent the population. Instead of involving all the journalists at ZBC or those who used to work for ZBC which would be time consuming because the researcher would have to deal with over 1000 participants only four were selected. There would be a risk of information saturation and repetition since experiences of people in the same institution could be similar. They might slightly differ and so the differences were taken care of by dealing with the selected sample. For efficiency, accuracy and depth, the researcher worked with a small sample that represented the whole group.
The study used purposive sampling. Tashakkori and Teddie (2003) define purposive sampling as a selection of units based on a purpose rather than randomly selecting them. It is done on personal judgement with a targeted number and formula. Purposive sampling is drawn from a defined population in this case it is the choice of a few journalists from ZBC. There was a deliberate choice of reporters from ZBC, that is those with known cases of harassment from reports on social media and informants. It was not very difficult to familiarise with them since confidentiality was guaranteed and they knew the study was mainly for learning purposes. It is important to note that in a purposive sample, participants or units are chosen according to the purpose of the study with the expectation that each unit will afford incomparable and valuable information to the study (Shumbayawonda, 2011). Purposive sampling starts with a determination in mind resulting in the selection of participants who will give the required/ information to save time and resources. This technique allowed the researcher to go straight to where the required answers were rather than digging for information aimlessly. Choosing journalists with safety concerns within ZBC was a well thought out decision to allow the research to be carried out within the limited time frame, limited resources and to get the required information.
The researcher chose respondents who were accessible, readily available and who understood the purpose of the research. These comprised of former and current Midlands State University students working for ZBC or who have at some point worked for ZBC.
Methods of data gathering
In simpler terms, these are the means of data collection used in the research. This process is very essential since the findings and analysis come from them. This research mainly relied on semi structured in-depth interviews and archival research. Selected journalists affected by safety issues within or those who formerly worked for ZBC provided the primary data. Members of civil society organisations were also interviewed to cross check on data collected.
This was the main method of data collection. These were carried out with the chosen sample from ZBC but after the realisation that there was constant mentioning of the civil society organisations like Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) and Zimbabwe Union for Journalists (ZUJ), the researcher had to further probe officials within these institutions. This made the research to be balanced. The researcher also ended up interviewing two reporters from Zimpapers, a sister company to ZBC to compare and contrast how the journalists are treated. The findings however elaborate the differences and similarities of the treatment of the journalists.
Face to face interviews were carried out with most of the respondents from ZBC then one respondent was unavailable each time the researcher sought them so telephone interviews were carried out. It was also difficult to talk directly with members of ZUJ or MISA but the researcher took advantage of commemorations of World radio day to talk to the officials, who obviously attended the Gweru quota in February. With the two respondents from The Herald, the researcher met with them during a festival in Harare and took advantage of it to interview them.
The participants were very willing to give information and even referred the researcher to further sources with cases that were never reported or written about. The responses were over whelming. However, the researcher felt that maybe the participants were venting out their frustrations of being misunderstood so the research only made use of data relevant to the study.
Archival research is a way of gathering information from sources that already exist (Shumbayawonda, 2011). Examples can be drawn from published newspapers online or in libraries, pamphlets and reports by institutions like MISA or ZUJ. The researcher made use of MISA reports to look at the statistics and these reports are secondary to the study since they were carried out by other people in the same field. Newspapers and social media were used to assess and make a follow up of publications related to the safety of journalists, their harassment or even cyber bullying. Secondary research did not consume much time or resources than primary research, interviews in this case. It however helped in noticing another form of abuse that journalists suffered in the comments section of stories published on social media.
Methods of data analysis
These are the methods used to analyse data before giving conclusions. This process is important because it gives the researcher the opportunity to analyse data and be able to group it differently. The researcher used critical discourse analysis and semiotic analysis to analyse data.
Language is not innocent, each statement can be used to push an agenda or to communicate something else with a hidden meaning. Taylor (2004) defines discourse analysis as an interdisciplinary approach in the study of speech, written words or song. It examines how power relations are established through the use of language. In this research, the researcher did not take words lightly but analysed every statement as coming from a particular background. The respondents came from a political background and the nation is basically authoritarian as noted before, so every statement does not come innocently. There were statements that have connotative meanings, so the researcher sought to analyse every statement and give varied meanings to them. Some of the analysis was done on stories written by the participants, what transpired during interviews and cases under study came because of language. Van Jik; Wodak
Data was analysed in different ways including the unspoken words. Some cases happened because of connotations linked to their dress or body language. It is not true however that when someone is silent verbally they will be quiet, body language says a lot thus that was not overlooked. Generally semiotics is anything from which sense and meaning are derived. Semiology aims to take in any system of signs, whatever their substance and limits. These could be images, gestures, musical sounds, objects, and the composite relations of all of these, which form the content of ritual (Morris, 1946). In a situation where political interference is rife, especially dealing with an election period, there is serious need to look into signs that could have deeper meaning and those signs could be the reasons why violence or abuse happens. At times journalists put themselves in danger, knowingly and unknowingly because of communicative signs, colour or gestures. The researcher therefore looked into all possible signs available and asked the participants about the colours of clothes that they put on, common gestures among aother things that could communicate to their disadvantage.
Methods of data presentation
Presentation of data can be defined as a way of summarising and penning down findings after analysis. Data gathered was presented thematically. The main themes were drawn from raw data analysis to allow a better understanding of the findings and analysis.
Patterns of data were analysed after looking into information collected. Only key themes are discussed in this study to allow a qualitative analysis of what was found after the research. After carrying out interviews and reviewing secondary data, the researcher grouped the findings according to relation. Related material was put under one theme and analysis is done according to each theme.
By virtue of the researchers past experiences as a journalist who worked for ZBC, the researcher did not take personal experiences into the study. The researcher however took advantage of past relations and knowledge to choose participants considering that not everyone would have granted the researcher an interview. The researcher did not pick friends or relatives for the sake of the research but took advantage of past knowledge about certain individuals to convince them to assist with the research. The participants were granted anonymity and privacy and so the researcher did publish any real names of research participants. The researcher is truthful and fair in data presentation and acknowledges ownership of archival research by citing and referencing.
This chapter focused on methods of data collection and analysis. It is the basis of how data was collected and how it was analysed. The author explored the manner in which the study was conducted. The chapter also explained how ethics were observed.