The Wits Center for Journalism (WCJ) is a partner in the OsloMet Safety Matters doctoral program, which sees doctoral students and research institutes from South Africa, Norway, the United States and Brazil work together to provide training and support postgraduate research around issues related to media, journalism and security. The PhD course is partly online, with one week of intensive in-person work in Norway.
This year, three South African PhD students – Lebogang Seale from WCJ, Palesa Lebitse from Wits School of Law and Bella Boqo from the School of Journalism & Media Studies at Rhodes University – traveled to Oslo, where they worked with doctoral students from other participating countries. produce concept papers for new research projects related to journalism and security issues. The doctoral students successfully presented their proposals to the 8th Annual Conference on Media, War and Conflict (MEKK) which took place the week after their workshop.
This year, the doctoral projects include a study on the use of “lawfare” (threats or gratuitous legal actions) against women reporters in three countries (South Africa, Brazil and Spain); a study of how concepts of professional and gender identity are negotiated by female journalists; and an overview of how Twitter is used to amplify online attacks against journalists. These projects will be completed in early 2023, under the mentorship of academics and journalism professionals from the participating countries – including Neena Kapur, Director of Information Security at New York Timesand Leandro Demori, former editor of The interception in Brazil.
During the MEKK conference, WCJ’s Safety Matters project coordinator, Dr. Nechama Brodie, also presented a new ongoing studyexamining the impact of accessory crime on journalism in South Africa.