Daily Newspapers 'Lying' About Readership, Claims Geoff Nyarota

Addressing senior journalists gathered for the half-day MISA Zimbabwe indaba on “Zimbabwe Media Ethics”, Nyarota said: “There is now a general disregard for ethics of journalism in Zimbabwe today. How can three daily newspapers currently operating in Zimbabwe, The Herald, The Daily News and News Day all claim to be the best in Zimbabwe.

“Only one newspaper can be the people’s choice and which people enjoy. Only one newspaper can thus claim to have the widest circulation and so two of the three daily newspapers are lying to the people, and deliberately so.”

The three daily newspapers, The Herald, published by the State-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited Group, The Daily News published by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited and News Day published by Alpha Media Holdings (Private) Limited, all told readers on their front pages that they had “scooped’ the top readership trophy and had the “most readers and widest coverage in Zimbabwe”.

They quoted the Zimbabwe All Media Promotion Survey (Zamps).

The Herald in its headline said: “The Herald Tops”, The Daily News said: “Most Widely Read”, while Newsday said: “Newsday Rules The Roost”.

Nyarota said: “I call upon the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) to take this issue seriously because it amounts to a scandal for the readership. This is a good story for all of us as journalists to follow and really find out which of the two newspapers is actually lying about their readership and circulation figures. A thorough investigation is needed otherwise we are all shortchanging our readers.”

The MISA Zimbabwe Chapter was represented at the indaba by its Executive Director, Nhlanhla Ngwenya while the VMCZ had Takura Zhangaza, a Director present.

The two gentlemen simply nodded after Nyarota’s remarks.

“Last year we all celebrated after the Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC) had given publishing licences to The Daily News, News Day, The Mail and several other newspapers for publication in Zimbabwe,” Nyarota said.

“We all thought that we were going to access more and better information but unfortunately, this is not the case because falsehoods are slowly creeping into our newsrooms.

“We have misleading headlines such as ‘Top Cop Arrested’, ‘Mugabe Paralysed’ etc which are misleading and only meant to help the newspaper’s circulation figures which is wrong,” a visibly worried Nyarota said.

Nyarota has been Editor of the Bulawayo-based Chronicle daily newspaper, The Financial Gazette weekly newspaper, and The Daily News, which he founded together with another veteran journalist, London-based Editor-in-Chief of The Zimbabwean and The Zimbabwean on Sunday, Wilf Mbanga.