MCR book reviewed in African Journalism Studies journal

MCR review1African Journalism Studies (Volume 37, Issue 1, 2016) has published a review of my 2014 book Mobile community reporting: a grassroots perspective on journalism, in which I outlined what I termed the Mobile Community Reporting theory. In a few words, I advocated the idea that journalism has a lot to gain in involving reporters from within the community, who share the same values with the other members of the community and who use the same technologies that the other community members use (mobiles). I invited academics and practitioners to re-think key concepts such as ethics, newsworthiness, sources, among others, to include the grassroots, non-elitist perspective.

John Mokwetsi seems to agree with me and even turns my book into a must-read for ‘every journalism student who wants to understand the ethical dilemma of citizen journalism, but most importantly the role community-based reporters have in speaking for the marginalised.’ (p. 148).

However, Mokwesi has doubts about my claim that social proximity (being part of the community one is reporting about and sharing their views, values, and interests) might be an obstacle to objective journalism. I completely agree with him about this. I even called this a weakness of the MCR approach but at the same time, I considered that weakness to be a strength in the sense that social proximity removes the barrier between the source and the journalists and creates a conducive environment that allows what the community thinks to come out. It is true that the social distance between journalists (usually coming from the capital city) and their sources (especially those in marginalized areas) result into “objective” journalism. But at the same time, we miss what the grassroots people really think and get only what the elite want them to think.

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