Digital Platforms and Civil War: How Côte d’Ivoire’s Press Informs a New Model of African Journalistic Practices in Authoritarian Regimes
During Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa’s 2010 presidential elections, conditions on the streets of the main city Abidjan became too dangerous for journalists to report in person, which influenced many newsrooms to close their offices and swiftly switch to digital platforms. This study includes 15 field interviews with journalists who reported during the 2010–11 national elections in Abidjan. I examine how journalists adapted their news routines to using digital platforms to avoid being physically present during this civil war. This case study of Côte d’Ivoire adds to the theoretical discussion on a context-dependent theory of African journalistic practices in the digital era, in which sociopolitical contexts shape a more accurate definition of how journalists operate in repressive African regimes. Results show contextual factors such as spatial immobility, collaboration, and negotiating polarized communal violence are emergent patterns in how journalists adapted their reporting routines.