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Opinion / Columnist

Journos pose biggest danger to themselves, not Govt

08 May 2016 at 09:39hrs | Views
The biggest threat to journalism and media freedom in Zimbabwe are the journalists themselves. They are a threat to themselves, first and foremost. If Government poses any threat, it comes way later in the pack. I know these brothers and sisters think they have a monopoly of ideas and they won't take this sermon lightly. Well, just like zvihuta, that's their own business.


WAIT a minute dear reader, journalists in this country want to play us a fast one. Last Tuesday, these brothers and sisters from the supposed Fourth Estate were celebrating World Press Freedom Day and some of them wanted to play and sound clever.

They were telling us that the biggest threat to journalism and media freedom in Zimbabwe is the Government. That's a blatant lie and these scribes know it.

Asi kunonzi tiri marema? Babangu Moyondizvo iwe!

The biggest threat to journalism and media freedom in Zimbabwe are the journalists themselves.

They are a threat to themselves, first and foremost. If Government poses any threat, it comes way later in the pack.

I know these brothers and sisters think they have a monopoly of ideas and they won't take this sermon lightly. Well, just like zvihuta, that's their own business.

You see, these journos think all of us are like them. They think just because they don't like reading we all don't.

Isn't it amazing that these journos like writing a lot but they don't like reading? A crazy bunch if you ask me!

If you think Bishop Lazarus is making up things here and if you think I just hate these journos, then just take a copy of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry report (April – December 2014) that was commissioned by the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services in 2014.

This report, whose chairperson was veteran journalist Geoffrey  Nyarota is a fascinating read that answers so many questions why Zimbabwean readers are being shortchanged by these journos. Journalists in the country can't disown this report because many of their seniours were part of the team that compiled the report.

And they were paid handsomely.

Just yesterday, Nathaniel Manheru in "The Other Side" column in The Herald described journos in the country as "hardly literate journalists" adding that "You not only take what they publish with a pinch of salt. That is an understatement. It has to be with a shovel of s. . .t". Uummm, tough words!

Manheru further asked, sounding genuinely worried: "I am not so sure of what needs to be done to make our journalism any closer to readable decency."

Well, torai shamu murove vanhu! Jokes!

But I am not joking when I say, journalists in this country pose a bigger threat to themselves than Mr Government.

Let me quote some parts of the IMPI report. Unotosvoda kuti ko inga zvavanoita kunge vanhu kwavo wani?

There goes: "Editorially the information sector faces a real values dilemma.This has gone beyond being a charge against journalism by those in power.

"It has become a self-­admitted shortcoming by practitioners of the industry.

"Years of adversarial and polarised relationships have levied a horrendous toll on professional and ethical  standards. . .

"Such is the state of play of things  in this sector which is hardly an  industry at all.

"The real challenge is to overcome  the narrow mindset, the unimaginative and uneconomic mindset, to lift and widen the vista of players in the industry so parameters for a real industry begin to be shaped  and developed for a re-­launch. . .

"There is a consensus in the information and media industry that the standard of journalism and other media practices in Zimbabwe has  plummeted to unprecedented levels, and that training and capacity-­building is an essential factor in rebuilding the industry.

"The editors blamed training  institutions for producing half-­baked  journalists  and media workers who  cannot operate in the newsroom without re-­training.

"Newsroom mentoring has been  depleted by the migration of skilled  and more experienced journalists. Journalism trainers, on the other hand, say the newsrooms are responsible for undoing all the good  training they have given to new reporters.

"The trainers also blame the decline in the  standard of Zimbabwe's primary and secondary school  education for the poor command of  English, in particular, and poor  general knowledge among newly   trained reporters.

"Trainees blame the lack of appropriate  equipment, poorly  stocked   libraries, and the inappropriatey  structured curricula in journalism  training  institutions.

"Training aids in these institutions, especially for broadcasting, belie, rather than reflect, the technological revolution.

"Although training  nstitutions  have grown numerically and even  escalated in status in recent years  to levels of "higher learning", the quality of the product -­ that is, the  journalist – from these institutions  has fallen far short of industry requirements and national or public expectation.

"It is a maxim that the decline  in the quality of journalism in Zimbabwe is in inverse proportion to the  increase in the quantity of journalism training institutions.

"There is no relationship between  the numbers of journalists churned  out annually by training  institutions  and what the media industry can  absorb.

"Thereis little coordination among the training institutions, and  requirements for registration are  not enforced as the Standards Development and Research Unit (SDERU) in the higher education ministry was  not properly  constituted.

"The media sector faces a basic  training and skills crisis, well  before one talks about modernising  those skills.

"Therefore this chapter includes a  proposal for the  establishment of  an  independent national Journalism Training Academy to provide  all levels and aspects of media training,  including various specialised training for holders of a first  degree."

This is from IMPI and not Bishop Lazarus.

Dear reader allow me to steal bit and pieces from the above quote from IMPI.

Did you see ". . .self-admitted shortcomings. . .?" Did you see that ". . .this sector which is hardly an industry at all. . .", ". . .narrow mindset, the unimaginative and uneconomic mindset. . ." and that ". . .the standard of journalism and other media practices in Zimbabwe has plummeted to unprecedented levels. . .?"

Now you want to tell me that the Goverment is the biggest threat to journalism and media freedom in Zimbabwe?

Come on guys! Let's get real.

Chapter 4 of the IMPI report, which covers "Ethics and Standards of Professional Journalism" and Chapter 5 which covers, "Media Training and Capacity Building" are quite revealing.

You go through these chapters and you will be forgiven to think Thomas Jefferson was wrong when he said, "If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter."

Jefferson added that, "With no newspapers, democracy suffers," but in Zimbabwe it's the other way round. "With newspapers, democracy suffers."

This is the sad reality that confronts the Zimbabwean reader.

Matthew 7 vs 3 says: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

Zimbabwean journos don't have a plank in their own eyes, they have a huge bamboo tree in thier eyes.

It's time for these journos to self-introspect.

Hapana chinonyadzisa because IMPI said hapana industry.

Bishop is out!

Source - the herald
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