As Journos Remember Chakaodza, Zim Traditional Media Urged To Embrace Technology

By Sij Ncube

Zimbabwe’s traditional media, both print and broadcast, faces annihilation if it does not embrace technological advancements in the ICT sector, Alpha Media Holdings Editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya has said.

Kahiya told guests at a dinner to mark the 3rd edition of the Bornwell Chakaodza Memorial Lecture on Wednesday night sponsored by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ); the traditional media faced turbulent times in the wake of a revolution taking place in the ICT sector which has given birth to citizen journalism.

“We are having changes around us which have an impact on the operations of the traditional media. These are very scary times we are witnesses. The traditional media is shrinking in terms of readership, circulation and overall revenue,” he said, adding that most people with smart-phones were dabbling in citizen journalism.

“We have new players threatening the mainstream media via use of social media. There is a new explosion of voices we should ignore at own peril. It is no longer business as usual.”  

He challenged the traditional media to incorporate citizen journalism in its reportage saying it defined what audiences and readers wanted to read.

Kahiya gave examples of trending pictures and stories on the web, he said previously would not have made it into pages of newspapers such as the picture of “the man in shorts at a wedding.”

“We must work with new players in the game instead of trying to out-compete them. We need win-win partnerships with technology firms and start-ups. We need to change at the same pace with advertisers and accommodate citizen journalists into our space,” Kahiya said in his presentation titled The Future of Zimbabwean Media in the Disruptive Digital Age.

The public lecture, attended by journalists, lawyers, diplomats and civil society activists, was part of commemorations of World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3 annually.

Speaker after speaker bestowed accolades on Chakaodza who succumbed to cancer in 2012, describing him as one of the best editors and writers to emerge from Zimbabwe.

Austin Chakaodza, representing the family of the late editor of The Standard and Herald, paid tribute to his late brother, describing him as a journalist of great integrity and a prolific writer who left a legacy which a few can only emulate.

“He exercised his duties with a balanced application and a critical mind. He was fearless and operated without prejudice. I am sure if he was still alive, he was going to give a critical analysis of the goings-on in Zanu PF,” said Chakaodza.