It’s a tricky business selling newspapers. The odds are stacked heavily against the publisher these days, especially in Zimbabwe. We compete for the time and money of a cash-strapped audience against digital media, and not just news sites. Facebook is a full time occupation for some. Cat videos, sports betting sites, classifieds markets, streaming sites, and, with one notorious free URL ranked among the most visited sites in Zimbabwe, pornography sites, all jostle for eyeballs on phones and computers across the country.
With such a range of content available for the cost of data, it’s little wonder that people think twice about parting with a dollar for a paper. I get it. I’m an avid consumer of diverse media too, also partial to the mind-numbing candy-floss culture of Instagram, the self-affirming echo chamber of Facebook, and the fast-paced and heady journalism chat room that is Twitter. Frankly, I’m addicted.
But I take pains to diversify. Because just as what we eat determines our physical health and appearance, so our media diet impacts our intellectual and emotional health. What you put in is what you get out, and the ‘McMedia’ habit that has seized the world is destroying common sense and social awareness.
So get your five a day. Decide what these should be, and how you will get them. Yes, watch those cat gifs, stay in the loop with your favourite sports team or musician. But also make sure to read fiction, poetry, scientific news. Watch a bit of TV. Skim your social media. But also designate some of your data to podcast downloads. And some of your money to print – be it paperbacks or newspapers.
Unless you have an academic interest, don’t poison your soul with state media.
And again… don’t ignore print! I’ll argue till I’m blue that print media is a more calming, distraction-free, and immersive experience than the frenetic rabbit hole that is reading online. Every site you visit is littered with breadcrumbs leading you of course. An hour reading a printed paper or novel is worth three distracted hours of screen-reading!.
Yes. I want to sell newspapers, it’s the business I’m in. But I’m only in it because I believe profoundly in the importance of good journalism, and that print is, for now, the best way to present it.
I hope you like this paper. I hope you will keep buying it or better yet, subscribe and get it delivered. We specialise in council affairs – the real bread and butter issues facing Harare. Reading about community and environment is surely a critical part of any media diet? Email [email protected] to subscribe today!