Florence Madenga’s specialty weds journalism, censorship, and internet shutdowns in Africa

Florence Madenga, now a third-year doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication, originally wanted to be a journalist—she has a master’s degree in media and politics from New York University—but after a few years of freelancing, she realized that she was more interested in studying journalism than doing it.

Florence Madenga speaking at a podium with Annenberg School for Communication written on the front of the podium
Pre-pandemic image of Florence Madenga courtesy of Annenberg School of Communication.

At Annenberg, Madenga is seeking to better understand how one defines journalism and nonfiction storytelling at large. Through ethnographic interviews and archival research, she considers questions like: What counts as journalism and what doesn’t? Why are certain types of storytelling censored and others aren’t? Why do people choose to tell the stories they tell?

“I’ve always been interested in nonfiction and how people tell stories,” says Madenga. “I want to understand how different kinds of storytelling manifest, and where and how we draw the line between storytelling genres.”

Her focus is currently on state censorship of journalism and internet shutdowns in African countries. In Zimbabwe, where she grew up, Madenga is investigating how satire journalism and humor news are less likely to be censored by the state. Despite doing rigorous political commentary, storytelling that brands itself as comedy, rather than “serious” journalism, is able to avoid censorship, and she wants to understand why.

Read more at Annenberg School for Communication.