A study of ownership, philosophy, and editorial policy of the Zambia Daily Mail

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Chileshe, Stephen
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The University of Zambia
The effect of media ownership on media operations and content has continued to draw attention in communication studies both from theoretical and policy perspectives. This is against a backdrop of some previous studies suggesting that Journalists’ autonomy and perception of issues are defined within boundaries set by media owners. Such revelations have encouraged communication scholars to continue probing media ownership structures so as to unveil how this influence is exercised in a bid to help guide national and international media policies. It was in this context that this study was set-up to explore the subject further by interrogating the ownership structure of the Zambia Daily Mail and examine if there were weaknesses which could be used by owners to influence the operations and ultimately content of the media house. The study used qualitative method as a primary methodology whereas a quantitative method was employed as a secondary methodology to survey the Zambia Daily Mail Journalists who deal with hard news. Qualitative data was analysed using themes while SPSS was used for quantitative data. The study has revealed that despite efforts by successive governments to improve the Zambia Daily Mail environment both internal and external, there are still some weaknesses in the ownership structure which needed attention. The researcher posits that it was these weaknesses which are responsible for fluctuations in terms of the Zambia Daily Mail autonomy and quality of content. The researcher argues that unless the identified weaknesses are worked on, the Zambia Daily Mail autonomy will continue to depend on the good will of those in government at any given time. The study recommends that the Zambia Daily Mail properly defines its operational philosophy and ensures that the philosophy is accurately unpacked into the editorial policy. This would allow for proper management and accountability of the media house contrary to the current prevailing where the media house exhibits a mixture of philosophies. Further, some stakeholders featured in the study proposed that the autonomy of the Zambia Daily Mail would be assured if it was partially or completely privatised. However, considering evidence presented in this study, the researcher caution against such a move on the basis that the public service principles that the Zambian people desire from the Zambia Daily Mail, are only practical under state ownership due to the funding model which requires such media houses to be non-profit making.
Mass Media-Ownership-Zambia , Mass Media policy-Zambia