What we’re reading: What will journalism look like in 2020?

Take a look at some of things we are currently reading in our newsroom

Tshepo Tshabalala
Jan 9 · 3 min read
Image: Retha Ferguson/Pexels

Government-led internet shutdowns cost sub- Saharan Africa $2.16BN in 2019

According to a report by internet research company Top10VPN, sub-Saharan Africa’s cost of government-led internet shutdowns is second to the Middle East and North Africa. The total global cost of internet shutdowns is $8.05 billion, whereas for Sub-Saharan Africa this cost is $2.1 billion. The report identifies the total economic impact of every major internet blackout and social media shutdown by governments “to exert control over the flow of information” around the world last year.

The report states that shutdowns occurred mostly in response to protests or civil unrest as “authoritarian regimes looked to restrict the flow of information and maintain their grip on power.”

Ranked according to the total economic cost where disruptions occurred, in Africa, Sudan topped the list with a total of 1,560 hours of shutdowns costing $1.866 million. Globally, the East-African country ranked second behind Iraq with 263 hours of shutdowns costing $2.320 million.

Other African countries with excessively high costs incurred for internet shutdowns include Algeria ($19.7 million); Chad ($125.9 million); DRC (61.2 million); Ethiopia ($56.8 million); Zimbabwe ($34.5 million); Egypt ($3.8 million); Benin and Gabon ($1.1 million); Eritrea ($400 million) and Liberia ($377,000).

Predictions for journalism in 2020

Every year the Nieman Lab ask various industry leaders from around the world on what they think is going to happen in the next 12 months within journalism and digital media. Some of the predictions are positive for the industry. Chief Technology Officer at Charbeat, Josh Schwartz says the trend of metered paywalls has reached its end. He predicts a shift in “how publishers implement their paywalls, with many beginning to operate a freemium-style model”.

Others paint a grim picture for the industry. Investigations editor at Quartz, John Keefe warns newsroom to be aware of hacking, especially during a time of elections. Despite hackers having messed with presidential elections, the journalism industry is also vulnerable. Keefe illustrated this through a cyberattack simulation where trusted news websites were hacked. Two university professors warns journalists to think twice before turning to Twitter for information, because it seems like social media may be killing journalism instead of saving the profession.

How Africa fared on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index

Two African countries moved up considerably in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index and the continent registered the smallest deterioration in its regional score. The index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, evaluates the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories every year. The index found that there is an intense climate of fear and hostility towards journalists. Despite this, Ethiopia moved up 40 places to 110th after the country freed all of its detained journalists, while a change of government spurred Gambia’s accent to 92nd, up 30 places from last year’s index.

Despite Eritrea having made peace with its neighbour Ethiopia, it is third from last, having only moved up one spot to 178th. Tanzania moved down 25 places to 118 following unprecedented attacks on the media since Johan Magufuli’s installation as president in 2015. Somalia remains to be Africa’s deadliest country for journalist.

Twitter will add ability to limit who can reply to tweets

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday 8 January 2020, Twitter director of product management Suzanne Xie said the social media platform is set to introduce the ability for users to limit who can reply to their tweets with four new options. The four options are Global, Group, Panel, and Statement.

jamlab

The JAMLAB Newsletter is produced by Wits Journalism. The Journalism and Media Lab, Tshimologong Digitial Innovation Precinct, Johannesburg supports innovators to bring new information, new ideas and new conversations to new audiences in Africa.

Tshepo Tshabalala

Written by

Web editor, digital content producer extraordinaire, writer of things and hackademic

jamlab

jamlab

The JAMLAB Newsletter is produced by Wits Journalism. The Journalism and Media Lab, Tshimologong Digitial Innovation Precinct, Johannesburg supports innovators to bring new information, new ideas and new conversations to new audiences in Africa.

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