Foreign correspondence from sub-saharan Africa: an evolving communicational paradigm shift
A sizable portion of our everyday knowledge about Sub-Saharan Africa comes from the work of international news reporters. Even though these news actors play a critical role in the communication of the distant Other, frequently criticized for its representational deficits, scholar empirical research on the work of foreign correspondents has been considerably neglected: it is now decades old, it lacks a systematic examination of the on the ground realities of journalism in Africa and of the evolving work of professionals and Pro-Ams supported by networked digital media. This article analyses the evolving professional cultures and newswork of those individuals (micro). It inspects long-term trajectories in international journalism combined with short-term developments based on transformations on microelectronics and digitization. We conduct the first recorded Pan-African online survey on the work of international news reporters, collecting answers from 124 participants in 41 countries. These findings are complemented by semi-structured interviews with 43 professionals based in Nairobi, Dakar and Johannesburg. Our findings challenge the narrative of international news reporting as a dying breed. Instead, they support a nuanced view towards localized continuities and localized ruptures in contemporary post-industrial mediascape: its socio-demographics express a considerably precarious new economy of foreign correspondence – particularly, in the case of freelance workers – while the use of network-based digital media is driving the field towards the rising of a multilayered confederacy of distinct correspondences.