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A critical analysis of documentary production ethics and technical standards of Zimbabwe’s key population documentaries.

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The majority of researchers on media and its impact on representation of Key Populations have concentrated on print media and advertisement. Limited research has been undertaken to understand how electronic media represent, and projects Key Populations (KP). Based on the premise that documentarians use humans/ people as subjects and have the potential to impact the lives of these people, the study examines ethical and technical issues that abound in documentary filmmakers. It analyses six documentaries focusing on the presentation of key populations (sex workers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender) (LGBT) persons in Zimbabwe. Theoretically, the study is informed by the framing theory and the social representation theory. Being qualitative in design, the study relies on observation and content analysis research methodology. The study argues that to a greater extent, most documentaries produced by Zimbabwean Non-Governmental fail to meet ethical standards such as confidentiality, consent and presentation of the subject. The reserach contends that the documentaries are subjective in their presentation of realities about the lives and circumstances of key populations. The story angle, and presentation is highly influenced by the sponsors of documentaries. Such presentations promote negativity, fuel discrimination against key populations in Zimbabwe and compromise the quality of the documentaries. The study recommends that the government of Zimbabwe, working together with the Human Rights Commission craft laws that protect key populations against discrimination by the media and society. Producers and documentary filmmakers should be capacitated on key population reporting. Film makers should also invest in professional film making equipment and widen their distribution of the films.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.