What is Development Journalism?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The term “development journalism” is used to refer to two different types of journalism. The first is a new school of journalism that began to appear in the 1960s. The idea behind it is similar to investigative reporting, but it focuses on conditions in developing nations and ways to improve them. The other type of involves heavy influence from the government of the nation involved. While this sort can be a powerful tool for local education and empowerment, it can also be a means of suppressing information and restricting journalists.

Development journalism may focus on conditions in developing nations.
Development journalism may focus on conditions in developing nations.

The first type of development journalism attempts to document the conditions within a country so that the larger world can understand them. Journalists are encouraged to travel to remote areas, interact with the citizens of the country, and report back. It also looks at proposed government projects to improve conditions in the country, and analyzes whether or not they will be effective. Ultimately, the journalist may come up with proposed solutions and actions in the piece, suggesting ways in which they might be implemented. Often, this form of journalism encourages a cooperative effort between citizens of the nation and the outside world.

One type of development journalism attempts to document the conditions in a country so that the larger world can understand them.
One type of development journalism attempts to document the conditions in a country so that the larger world can understand them.

The second type can walk a thin line. On the one hand, government participation in mass media can help get important information spread throughout the nation. Governments can help to educate their citizens and enlist cooperation on major development projects. A government can also use the idea of “development” to restrict freedom of speech for journalists, however. Journalists are told not to report on certain issues because it will impact the “development” of the nation in question, and therefore citizens are not actually being given access to the whole picture.

As a tool for social justice, development journalism can be very valuable. By speaking for those who cannot, a journalist can inform the rest of the world about important issues within developing nations. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a country may also help identify ways in which the nation can be helped. This style of journalism is a tool for empowerment.

When journalism is used as a propaganda tool, however, it can become very dangerous. Many citizens are taught that the news is a reliable and useful source of information. For example, within a developing nation which has a corrupt government, journalistic exposes of the government are extremely important for reform. If journalists are not allowed to write about what is actually going on, the citizens are not well served. Several international press organizations release reviews every year which look at the freedom of press in individual nations in an attempt to bring freedom of the press to all countries for this very reason.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


What about other types of journalism?


Define extension communication and factors that influence change.


Kindly differentiate between development journalism and development support communication.


Development support communication is about communication planning for the purpose of development, which includes message construction.

Development journalism is done by journalists who speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, especially in the unaware community of the Third World. DJ is normally practiced in underdeveloped countries.


What is a Canadian example of media (newspaper, tv station or network, book, or periodical publisher) that reflects the developmental journalism ideology?


What's the difference between the development journalism and development support communication?


Does government legislation necessarily mean the stifling of media freedoms? Because journalists may be too ideological to serve the general interest.

In my country, Ghana, media ownership is gradually turning political, because regulators usually change with political change. This is a serious threat to our democracy.


can anyone tell it in a simple language and after doing it where can a person get placed? i mean which type of job will be appointed?


How is the developmental journalism implemented?


what are the issues which can be taken up in developmental journalism?

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