Zimbabwe Citizenship Journalism - Zimbabwe’s inside story told by Insiders

3MG MEDIA has launched Zimbabwe’s first Citizen Journalism programme. The Global trend is that those nations which are democratically challenged like Zimbabwe gain immensely from Citizen Journalism as it provides accurate, unfiltered news .

The initial phase is targeted at Students within Zimbabwe Universities and Polytechnics who are expected to file stories regularly. Each participating student will get a monthly allowance of US$ 100 per month.

ZimDaily will be the central distribution site. The other 3MG Media community newspaper web sites be part of the distribution channel. These include www.zimTelegraph.com

The idea behind citizen journalism is to encourage people without professional journalism training to use the tools of modern technology (cell phones, laptops, internet etc) and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. Recently Zimbabwe had a cholera outbreak in which accurate information was hardly available. Citizen Journalists are expected to play a leading role in uncovering such humanitarian tragedies as and when they occur.

Citizen Journalists will be able to provide first hand and real accounts of the reality on the ground. Additionally, readers can fact-check articles from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias  at  www.zimDailyforum.com which are discussion forums. Alternatively a member of the public can witness police brutality and may snap a digital photo and post to Zimdaily for broad casting . Other  newsworthy events happening in local communities such as Mabvuku ,  Budiriro, Mzilikazi or Dangamvura can be informally recorded and  posted online to tell the real Zimbabwe story .

The 3MG MEDIA Citizen Journalist programme will be run in conjunction with www.zimFace.com Zimbabwe’s leading social networking site. Citizens will join in zimface whereby they will use their accounts  to upload news clips and articles .These articles with minimal editing will then be published by Zimdaily.com and the other 3MG Media sites outlined above. 3MG Media is distributing 10 cameras and cell phones to members participating in the initial phase. Other members of the public with own equipment are expected to send in news pieces and pictures which will speak thousands of words.

Citizen journalism, is also called public or participatory journalism or democratic journalism, is the act of non-professionals “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,”.This is exciting particularly for a nation in transition like Zimbabwe. It will give Zimbabweans an opportunity to interact and participate in information and events that shape their daily lives.

3MG MEDIA Citizen Journalism programme will be different from serious investigative Journalism. An investigative journalist may spend a considerable period researching and preparing a report, sometimes months or years, whereas a typical daily or weekly news reporter writes items concerning immediately available news.

Citizen journalists are “the people formerly known as the audience,” who “were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another. 3MG MEDIA Citizen Journalism will change all this, our readers will become an integral part of our news gathering efforts.

Citizen journalists may be activists within the communities they write about. This has drawn some criticism from traditional media institutions such as, which have accused proponents of public journalism of abandoning the traditional goal of ‘objectivity’.

Many traditional journalists view citizen journalism with some skepticism, believing that only trained journalists can understand the exactitude and ethics involved in reporting news. Citizen Journalism seeks to encourage reader participation there it must be encouraged and nurtured.

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