Seven Harare News journalists and four writers from other organisations completed a four day series of workshops that ended on Friday. The event was hosted at Moto Republik – the offices and creative hub on Allan Wilson Avenue run by arts organisation Magamba.
The programme had a ‘back to basics’ theme, and covered grammar and writing skills, refining an angle, the changing face of journalism in Zimbabwe, photography, gender sensitive reporting and a look into the legal and ethical issues facing journalists in Zimbabwe today.
Facilitators included veteran journalists and editors for local and foreign media houses. Andrew Moyse’s 35 year career in the Zimbabwean media started with sub editor work for The Herald and the Sunday Mail before he took up the position of Editor at Parade Magazine and then Horizon Magazine, and then The Standard newspaper in the year 2000. He worked with the participants on core writing skills for hard news pieces.
“The quality of journalism in Zimbabwe has been on the decline. Graduates looking for jobs as journalists have completed media degrees, which are completely different from journalism degrees and don’t equip students with the skills to professionally investigate and tell critical stories. Also, journalists face a hostile government and public, and work with limited resources and low pay,” said Moyse, highlighting the need for the training sessions.
In a discussion around media ethics and best practices, veteran journalist and now Executive Director of the Voluntary Media Council (VMCZ), Loughty Dube, outlined the fundamentals in ethical and safe journalism practice. His presentation included plenty of specific advice. “We should all keep two phones, a smart phone, and a cheap one tucked away with its own line and a full battery. If you are every robbed or abducted, that second phone could save your life,” he said.
Other facilitators included seasoned journalist, editor, and trainer Alwyn Francis, Jan Raath from The Times (London), Natasha Msonza from Her Zimbabwe, Faith Ndlovu from VMCZ, and Harare News‘ own Graham van de Ruit.
Leaving the final session, Harare News intern Carron Tambala was pleased with what she had learned. “I picked up useful information from every session and my writing has improved,” said Tambala. Long standing Harare News writer Lovemore Lubinda was also happy to have refreshed his practice. “As time passes journalists start to take shortcuts, or to overlook important things. We’ve enjoyed lots of good information that has got us back to basics,” said Lubinda.
Harare News Editor Tawanda Mudzonga was positive about the impact the training will have on the quality of the paper. “I’m very pleased with the ground we covered over the four days and am looking forward to seeing the progress we’ve made reflected in our next issue,” she said.