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This research is situated within the interpretivist paradigm (Denzin and Lincoln 1994). The paradigm acknowledges that research is based on real-life world ontology in which all observation is both theory- and value-laden (Hill and Harrison 2010). Investigation of the social world is not, and cannot, be the pursuit of a detached objective truth (Leitch, Hill, and Harrison 2010). Epistemologically, the viewpoint of the interpretivist paradigm is that our knowledge of reality is a social construction of human actions. Interpretivism is, hence, characterised by the need to understand the world, as it is, from a subjective point of view, and it seeks an explanation within the frame of reference of the participant rather than the objective observer of the action.

For data collection, the researcher utilised in-depth interviews with structured but open-ended questions that allowed respondents to supply as much information as they could. Open-ended questions encourage authentic accounts of subjective experiences (Silverman 2016). In the case of this chapter, part of our concerns lie with why the indigenous language press in Zimbabwe has declined, and what can be done, by whom, to save existing indigenous language press outlets from their contemporary comatose state and revive the ‘dead’ ones. The open-ended questions utilised during the in-depth interviews allowed the respondents to ‘wander’ around the questions and provide critical data. The researcher utilised snowball sampling (Browne 2005), which relies on one respondent leading to others, and growing the sample through personal contacts rather than random sampling of participants from the population (Noy 2008). Indigenous language press journalists in Zimbabwe are few, relative to mainstream English language press journalists. Because they are few, snowball sampling was preferred, as one participant proposed another with whom they had once worked, or who had worked under similar conditions elsewhere. One of the advantages of this approach is that it reveals the connections among individuals in employment and social networks (Bryman 2008). Another advantage is that, because indigenouspress journalists in Zimbabwe are a hard-to-reach population, snowball sampling aided the researcher in finding participants appropriate for this study - including current and former employees of indigenous language newspapers.

For the data analysis, the researcher utilised thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006), which pinpoints themes and patterns that emerge from the data (Braun and Clarke 2006). For this research, this approach offered two advantages. First, it is suited to questions related to people’s experiences, views and perceptions, which was the intention of the interviews. Second, it is theoretically flexible. Altogether, the researcher interviewed sixteen journalists. Seven of them still work for some indigenous language newspapers, five have moved into the mainstream English language newspapers, two have moved into public relations, one has retired and one is pursuing a postgraduate degree in journalism. The interviews were conducted in December 2018 in three major cities - Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo - where the participants reside. For ethical considerations, their names will not be revealed.


This section is divided into two parts. The first answers the question: how do we account for the decline of indigenous language newspapers in post-independence Zimbabwe? Journalists noted that the indigenous language press is in this decline because (a) it is no longer connected to the indigenous cultures it claims to serve, and (b) it failed to assert itself aggressively on the (press) market. The second section answers the question: what survival strategies can be adopted that can set the indigenous language press on a path of recovery, growth and significance on the Zimbabwean media space? The interviewed journalists said the most important survival strategies are (a) indigenous press institutions in Zimbabwe should move to adopt new technologies, and (b) the government and public-sphere-supporting institutions should intervene and provide assistance.

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