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Censorship in Newsrooms in Swaziland

Censorship in Newsrooms in Swaziland

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Published by Swazi Media
This research project concludes that there is widespread censorship in newsrooms in Swaziland. It highlights seven main areas where this censorship is manifest.

A total of 16 media practitioners were interviewed and asked to identify how much censorship existed in Swaziland. They were then questioned about their own personal experiences of censorship.

The research offers both quantitative and qualitative evidence to support its conclusions.

The Swazi monarchy and the poor state of the Swazi economy are identified as the main causes of censorship in Swaziland.

The overwhelming concern of the media houses was their relationship to monarchy. There is ample evidence, both historical and public, that the King can (and will) close down publications if he wishes. This power was demonstrated in March 2007 when a threat was made to the Times Sunday. The media in Swaziland generally take such threats seriously.

Because there is a constant fear of retribution from the King, media houses are cautious about what they write about the King and his immediate family.

The research was conducted by Richard Rooney, Associate Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Swaziland, and published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, in July 2008.

www.swazimedia.blogspot.com


This research project concludes that there is widespread censorship in newsrooms in Swaziland. It highlights seven main areas where this censorship is manifest.

A total of 16 media practitioners were interviewed and asked to identify how much censorship existed in Swaziland. They were then questioned about their own personal experiences of censorship.

The research offers both quantitative and qualitative evidence to support its conclusions.

The Swazi monarchy and the poor state of the Swazi economy are identified as the main causes of censorship in Swaziland.

The overwhelming concern of the media houses was their relationship to monarchy. There is ample evidence, both historical and public, that the King can (and will) close down publications if he wishes. This power was demonstrated in March 2007 when a threat was made to the Times Sunday. The media in Swaziland generally take such threats seriously.

Because there is a constant fear of retribution from the King, media houses are cautious about what they write about the King and his immediate family.

The research was conducted by Richard Rooney, Associate Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Swaziland, and published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, in July 2008.

www.swazimedia.blogspot.com


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Published by: Swazi Media on Aug 15, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/25/2010

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 THE EXISTENCE OF CENSORSHIPIN NEWSROOMS IN SWAZILAND
A REPORT FOR THE MEDIA INSTITUTE OFSOUTHERN AFRICA
 – 
SWAZILAND CHAPTER
 WRITTEN BY RICHARD ROONEY, UNIVERSITY OF SWAZILAND
 
 
2
ABSTRACT
This research project concludes that there is widespread censorship innewsrooms in Swaziland. It highlights seven main areas where thiscensorship is manifest.A total of 16 media practitioners were interviewed and asked to identify howmuch censorship existed in Swaziland. They were then questioned about theirown personal experiences of censorship.The research offers both quantitative and qualitative evidence to support itsconclusions.The Swazi monarchy and the poor state of the Swazi economy are identifiedas the main causes of censorship in Swaziland.
About the author
Richard Rooney is associate professor and head of the Department ofJournalism and Mass Communication at the university of Swaziland,Kwaluseni. He has published many academic research articles in books and journals across the world. Most recently he has published research onSwaziland media and governance, the Swazi Constitution and mediafreedom, and media regulation in Swaziland in the 21
st
century. Beforecoming to Swaziland, Rooney taught in universities in England and PapuaNew Guinea. He was a journalist in the UK for fifteen years and his journalismhas appeared in more than 60 publications. Rooney publishes the weblog,Swazi Media Commentary, at www.swazimedia.blogspot.com 
 
3
INTRODUCTION
There is a long history of censorship of the media in Swaziland. Some of thiscensorship we know about because it has become public in some way. Butthere is suspicion that a lot of censorship is taking place that we do not knowabout.There have been unsubstantiated reports about the existence of censorship,be it imposed or self-censorship, in newsrooms in the kingdom. Journaliststhemselves, when defending themselves in various forums againstaccusations of sub-standard journalism and lack of investigative journalism inSwazi media, have often complained of censorship in newsrooms.The
African Media Barometer Swaziland
report published by MISA in 2007also highlights the fact that censorship may exist in newsrooms in Swaziland.
It states: ‘Self 
-censorship is common across all media. There are four keyareas where the media exercise self-censorship: the monarchy and traditional
authorities, culture, media owners and advertisers.’
 
MISA’s vision is of a southern Afric
an region in which the media enjoyfreedom of expression independent from political, economic and commercialinterests and a region where members of society, individually or collectively,are free to express themselves through any media of their choice withouthindrance of any kind.In pursuit of this vision, MISA Swaziland seeks to advocate against any formof censorship in newsrooms in Swaziland. Therefore, the objectives of thisresearch are to:1. Establish if censorship exists in newsrooms;2. Establish the scale of censorship prevailing;3. Identify the forms of censorship prevailing and its possible causes.It is hoped that the findings of the research will help MISA Swaziland chapterto develop an effective strategy against any form of newsroom censorship.An interview format and questionnaire were used in the research. These hadtwo main objectives. One was to try to quantify how much (if any) censorshipwas taking place in the media and Swaziland. The other was more qualitative.If censorship existed the research wanted to be able to collect real examplesof what media practitioners identify as censorship.As a guide two definitions were given to respondents at the start of theinterview. These definitions were as follows.

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