MXit it Up in the Media: Media Discourse Analysis on a Mobile Instant Messaging System

Chigona, Agnes
Chigona, Wallace
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
Mobile instant messaging has the potential of providing the youth not only with a social space where they can interact and bond but also with a learning environment. MXit is the most popular mobile instant messaging application in South Africa. Due to its nascency, little academic research has been done on the application. The application has drawn considerable local media interest; however, most of the media coverage has been negative. Media discourse of the application is of academic interest, since media discourse is one of the many ways through which reality is constructed. This means there is a relationship between media discourse and public opinion. Distortions in the media may misinform and engender impaired decision making amongst policymakers as well as members of the public. Discourse analysis can reveal distortions in media communication and counter misinformation. Using critical discourse analysis, we have analysed the media discourse on MXit by employing the Habermasian concept of the ideal speech situation and its validity claims as a conceptual tool. The analysis shows that (i) the media discourse is fraught with distortions; (ii) the media have mainly used the voice of adults to legitimise the discourse and the voices of the youth who are the main users of the application are missing; and(iii) there seems to be a moral panic developing around the use of MXit.
Media discourse, Validity claims, Habermas, Mobile instant messaging and MXit.
Chigona. A., & Chigona, W. (2008). MXit it up in the media: Media discourse analysis on a mobile instant messaging system. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication (SAJIC), 9, 42-57.