Agenda Setting Unpacked: A Review of Zimbabwe's Approach to Reporting during COVID-19

The right to freedom of information is highly sought after by media practitioners. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes for journalists and their ability to freely disseminate information related to it. In countries such as Zimbabwe, where journalists are subjected to harsh punishment and even imprisonment when the state is opposed to what is being published, the protection of media experts and freedom has come under scrutiny. Not surprisingly, the World Press Freedom Index has ranked Zimbabwe within the red to nearly black category for media freedom, highlighting the dangerous circumstances within which its journalists operate. Moreover, in most countries, presidents and prime ministers are now emerging as important agenda setters, framers and representors of the debate around the pandemic – roles that should be subjected to scrutiny. For many journalists, there lies a concern that even when the pandemic has abated, freedoms that have been suspended due to it will be challenging to restore, especially in states where free and fair expression is already fragile.