This paper discusses the potential for promoting cyber-democracy through interactivity on news websites. The paper views interactivity and cyber-democracy on the online arena as central to free expression. The paper argues that the Internet is endowed with possibilities to promote the threefold ideal for public deliberations, that is, a conducive virtual environment for interactivity, cyber-democracy and a broadened public sphere. A content analysis of interactive tools carried out on 22 Zimbabwean online newspapers revealed that many newspapers are providing interactive tools that are of limited relevance to interactive citizen engagement with political issues. Different models were employed to assess the interactivity levels that the various feedback tools accorded citizens with a view to measure the potential for cyber-democracy. The three aspects of public deliberation and citizen engagement identified in this paper were found to be interdependent, that is, when one was low the same would be for other two.
Key words: cyber-democracy, interactivity, online newspapers, freedom of expression.
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