Dissertation Abstracts

Global News Flows: News Exchange Relationships among News Agencies in Southern Africa

Author: Jansen, Zanetta L, jansezl@unisa.ac.za
Department: Sociology
University: University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Supervisor: Prof Devan Pillay
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: News agencies , exchange agreements , global flows , globalisation
Areas of Research: Local-Global Relations , Theory , Communication, Knowledge and Culture


This study critically explores the relationships among the global, national, continental and alternative news agencies in South Africa and in a changing global context of news. It revisits previous studies’ findings on imbalances in global flows with a view to extending and updating these case studies. An extended-case study approach employing in-depth, open-ended interviews with news agency participants based primarily in South Africa and with the Pan African News Agency in Senegal is undertaken. The study postulates that news agencies do not operate independently of the broader external social environment. News agencies are influenced by changes in the global news environment and impacted by socioeconomic, political, and cultural processes and relations among nations. The main findings include: first, that “intermediary changes” described as “adaptive strategies” at news agencies result from internal and external pressures on their operations of news production, selection and distribution. Internal pressures are identified as changes in ownership, and the gate-keeping function in the selection and exchange of news. External pressures are associated with the processes and relations of market-based global capitalism, which, it is theorized, gives rise to changing conditions described as a new phase of neoliberal globalisation. Another finding related to the first, describes the adaptive strategies at news agencies as signifying a crisis in the global capitalist order and a transition to a post-industrial society. This post-industrial society presents the space for further investigation of the phenomenon of global consciousness, which is a further finding of the study. The study concludes that explanations for the persistence of imbalances in global news flows in the relationships among news agencies needs revision and updating, and that a global phenomenon, “global consciousness”, presents a challenge to the extreme market forces and the statist government control over media systems worldwide.

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