Research into Global South gains new momentum at Northwestern Qatar

January 12, 2021

A new book on data journalism in the Global South by Eddy Borges-Rey, associate professor at Northwestern Qatar, focuses on the transnational debates on how journalism is taught by exploring overlooked practices and approaches from Chile, Qatar, Zimbabwe, and a host of other regions of the world.

In explaining the rationale behind the project, Borges-Rey emphasized that “there is no longer one single definition of journalism,” adding that “the ideal of journalism constructed after the golden era that followed the 1920s remains important but has become only a portion of a larger, evolving, knowledge-building phenomenon.”

By advancing an understanding of journalism that takes different forms in different countries, owing to the unique forces and dynamics that can be found in each place, the book, Data Journalism in the Global South, “advocates against the reductionist view that journalism only occurs in democratic societies, and that objectivity is the only lens through which reality can be measured,” Borges-Rey said.

While he and his co-authors, journalism scholars Saba Bebawi and Bruce Mutsvairo, confront a scholarship that is still very much centered on Western concerns, he noted that the traditional and static model of data journalism is responsible for dismissing emerging research from the Global South as “descriptive and exploratory in nature.” And, he continued, it also uses “language barriers and differing scholarly traditions” as criteria to exclude non-Western researchers from contributing to mainstream debates.

“If you really are for inclusion and diversity, these should not really be challenges or obstacles at all,” Borges-Rey said. “In fact, diversity in approaches, themes, theories, and methodologies, when openly welcomed and adequately nurtured, has the potential to shake the pristine, monolithic structure of our current mainstream disciplines, and to further expand the limits of what we often take for granted.”

Borges-Rey also explained that he and his co-authors want to demystify traditional academic discussions that have been imposed on research from and about the Global South. “By providing a platform to amplify the voice of scholars from the Global South, we hope those voices will eventually find their way into the center of the academic debate and will be able to generate a much-needed cross-pollination,” he said. 

The project is the first in a series, Palgrave Studies in Journalism and the Global South. It was selected by BookAuthority to be included in their list of Best New Journalism Books of 2020, and “has been well-received,” according to Borges-Rey, “especially by members of the Global South community, who feel represented.” 

At Northwestern Qatar, Borges-Rey teaches courses on mobile journalism, data journalism, and social media for journalists, amongst others. Before obtaining his PhD in Media and Communication from the University of Malaga in Spain, Borges-Rey worked as a broadcast journalist, media producer, and PR practitioner.

“There is no longer one single definition of journalism...the ideal of journalism constructed after the golden era that followed the 1920s remains important but has become only a portion of a larger, evolving, knowledge-building phenomenon.”
- Eddy Borges-Rey, associate professor at Northwestern Qatar