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Research Projects

Migration, pollution, terrorism, population, resources... Mass media constantly tells us that we need to worry about the global south. But what does it mean to be worried in the global south? This multidisciplinary project considers media, culture, economy and lived experience within the anxious megacities of the south. 

The urban anxieties project is a collaboration between Nicky Falkof and Cobus van Staden, part-funded by a Friedel Sellschop early career fellowship, awarded by Wits. The project's first event was an international workshop held at Wiser in August 2017. 

Before joining the Media Studies department, Dr Glenda Daniels was the lead investigator on a research project hosted by our sister department, Journalism, called State of the Newsroom. The project documented major transitions in the journalism industry. Two reports were published. You can find PDF versions of the two reports just below this article. 

2013 Report: Disruptions and Transitions. 

2014 Report: Disruptions Accelerated.

#Worldtrends in freedom of expression and media development – Wits to lead flagship UNESCO research

Wits, the University of Oxford, and the University of Pennsylvania are leading a UNESCO-funded study to understand how global media have been changing and how they are re-shaping our everyday lives.

The project is led for Wits by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and will network academic institutions and scholars across the globe to produce the next “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” Report, UNESCO’s leading publication seeking to inform research and policy in the field of Communication and Information.

The 2017 edition of the report comes at a critical juncture. Demands are growing for a greater inclusion of perspectives from the Global South in research, education, and policy. Responding to these demands the research team will seek to blend core areas identified in the 1991 UNESCO’s Windhoek Declaration, including media freedom, journalist safely, information pluralism and media independence, with a renovated focus on 1) rising inequalities; 2) efforts to provide universal Internet connectivity; and 3) hate speech online and efforts to counter it.

The study has been ranked by UNESCO’s Board as “flagship publication”. This is the first time for research in the Communication and Information Sector to acquire UNESCO’s highest status. It will be launched at UNESCO’s 39th General Conference in November 2017, but the research team will make ongoing outcomes available on a dedicated website from the beginning of 2017. This will allow scholars, policy makers, students, and activists to make use of emerging findings, provide feedback and contribute to ongoing efforts. 


ITCH is an online periodical for experimental creative work by emerging and established writers and artists working in a wide variety of media. It provides an independent, virtual space in which critical, creative, thoughtful and provocative expression and debate can take place, free from the limitations of the commercial media economy and the pressures of political influence.

ITCH believes that artistic and creative works are powerful forms of political action that can draw attention to the importance of social and economic rights. By investing in a space that generates debate, exchange and intellectual growth, ITCH contributes to an independent, creative media landscape dedicated to work that pushes, challenges, reshapes and redefines the boundaries of genre in writing, art and media. ITCH gives local and international exposure to the work of emerging writers and artists and welcomes experimental work that cannot be easily categorised.

Visit the ITCH website


The China-Africa Project dedicated to expanding the global conversation about China-Africa relations through podcasting, mobile apps, blogging and social media. It provides original writing on China-Africa relations on its website http://www.chinaafricaproject.com/ and provides a daily China-Africa news feed on its Facebook page www.facebook.com/chinaafricaproject The weekly China-Africa Podcast https://itunes.apple.com/za/podcast/the-china-in-africa-podcast/id484409506?mt=2 has become the center for discussions about all aspects of China-Africa relations, bringing together academics, journalists and activists. The China-Africa Project is fast becoming the Web’s preeminent source for all China-Africa information, and is used all over the world, from classrooms in Botswana to the US State Department.

Visit The China-Africa Project website

osisa SP


ICT Policy and New Media Practices in Southern Africa project

In 2010 the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, with support from the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) embarked on a two year long project titled, “ICT Policy and New Media Cultures in Southern Africa”. The research project involved a two-tiered initiative aimed at exploring the political economy of new media industries in five Southern African countries; South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The first tier of the project entailed detailed ICT policy reports on each of the countries, while the second tier involved ethnographic studies on the use of ICTs by ordinary citizens, civil society and social movements. With a keen interest on the internet and mobile phones in particular, the research sought to examine the extent to which forms of ownership and financing of these media enhance or militate against universal access of citizens to these media. The focus on universal access remained crucial to the study, given that it is seen as corollary to the empowerment of citizens and the unleashing of their democratic and developmental potential in social, political, and economic processes.

Visit the OSISA website

OSISA Resources

Download Malawi ICT Report

Download Mozambique ICT Report

Download South Africa ICT Report

Download Southern Africa ICT Report

Download Zambia ICT Report

Download Zimbabwe ICT Report

The Critical Research into Consumer Culture (CRiCC) Network is an interdisciplinary grouping of scholars from across the social sciences, humanities and beyond who are actively researching issues relevant to the study of consumer culture, broadly defined. The CRiCC network is ‘housed’ at the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa. Its members include academic members of staff and postgraduate students from Wits as well as other universitieis in South Africa and abroad. The CRiCC Network was set up as part of a larger project funded by a Carnegie Transformation Programme Large Research Grant (2012) through the University of the Witwatersrand and has been funded by other grants since then (SPARC, Thuthuka, Friedel Sellschop Award). Membership is open to any academics or postgraduate students actively working on issues relevant to ‘consumer culture’ broadly defined.

Visit the CRiCC website

study with WITS media studies

Wits Media Studies will help you understand how media work and how they affect us. We critically analyse the role of media in politics, culture and the economy.
We contribute to scholarly debates and research about media and consumerism, and media and democracy in the Global South.
Undergrad | Postgrad | Apply on WITS website