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#Activateldn: Why Facebook is a key reporting tool for Zimbabwe’s SW Radio Africa

After being fired from one job and finding her house surrounded by Zimbabwean paramilitaries six days after she set up Capital Radio and aired a test broadcast, Gerry Jackson then launched SW Radio Africa.

And Facebook has become a key tool for finding stories, Jackson told today’s Guardian Activate London conference in a talk called “media in exile”.

Jackson spoke of the human rights abuses, corruption and repression in the country, and how the radio station and SW Radio Africa website aim to expose wrongdoings.

She told the conference that Zimbabwe is “trapped” as “nothing changes”.

We are groundhogs [like in the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day]. We are reliving the same day over and over. That’s what it feels like in Zimbabwe.

But although we are groundhogs and do the same stories over and over again, we do highlight stories that rest of the world doesn’t seem pick up on.

Jackson is particularly proud of the radio station’s exposes. The website published a leaked list of the names of 450 individuals who had allegedly committed acts of violence.

The expose received a “huge response on Facebook”, Jackson said. But explained that “people were very frightened to write publicly” so instead messaged the journalist who worked on the story to report details of further atrocities.

The reporters at SW Radio Africa also arrange most of their interviews via the platform. They are also aware that the ruling party “keeps a close eye on Facebook”.

Jackson said around one million people in the country of roughly 12 million are on Facebook, with two million internet connections and nine million mobile phones with 700,000 of those being used for internet access.

It’s impossible to underestimate how much Zimbabweans love Facebook.

She said that not only includes those within the country but Zimbabweans living in exile, which is perhaps one third of the total population.

And key political figures are on Facebook, including members of the Zanu-PF party.

It’s interesting to see their list of [Facebook] friends.

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Guardian forced to print embarrassing correction over WikiLeaks cable

January 13th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Politics, Press freedom and ethics

The Guardian was forced to publish an embarrassing clarification on Tuesday after an article in its Comment is Free section heavily criticised WikiLeaks for publishing a US embassy cable that was put in the public domain by the newspaper.

The 2009 cable shows that the prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai met with American and European ambassadors, whose countries had imposed travel sanctions and asset freezes on the country’s president Robert Mugabe and his top political lieutenants, and private agreed with them that the sanctions should remain in place.

Tsvangirai’s private discussions over the sanctions could leave him open to being charged with treason and, if convicted, sentenced to death.

The original Guardian article, written by former Republican National Committee communications manager James Richardson, claims that: “WikiLeaks may have committed its own collateral murder, upending the precarious balance of power in a fragile African state and signing the death warrant of its pro-western premier.”

But the Guardian was forced to later admit that the cable “was placed in the public domain by the Guardian, and not, as originally implied, by WikiLeaks”.

The headline of the article has been amended from “WikiLeaks’ collateral damage in Zimbabwe” to “US cable leaks’ collateral damage in Zimbabwe” and the image caption has also been amended.

But the main body of the article still includes numerous strong criticisms of WikiLeaks over the publication:

And so, where Mugabe’s strong-arming, torture and assassination attempts have failed to eliminate the leading figure of Zimbabwe’s democratic opposition, WikiLeaks may yet succeed …

Before more political carnage is wrought and more blood spilled – in Africa and elsewhere, with special concern for those US-sympathising Afghans fingered in its last war document dump – WikiLeaks ought to leave international relations to those who understand it – at least to those who understand the value of a life.

Read the full Guardian article on Comment is Free at this link.

Update: Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz has published a blog post today explaining the error.

Some critics saw malice in the publication of the Richardson piece in the first place: why would the Guardian point the finger at WikiLeaks knowing it had published the cable? In fact, neither Richardson, a first-time contributor to our comment website, nor the US-based editor who handled it, were aware of the somewhat complicated process through which (most) cables were published. The piece was posted on the bank holiday after Christmas. The Guardian’s WikiLeaks editing team was not around. They were taking a well-earned break after months of working on the documents.

Full post by Katz at this link.

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NUJ: Release of one Zimbabwe journalist offset by arrest of another

The National Union of Journalists has reported that the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Dumisani Sibanda was released from detention late last night.

Yesterday the union reported that Sibanda, the bureau chief for the Standard and Newsday, was arrested in relation to an article he wrote about the police force.

Following his release last night it was also reported that another journalist from the Standard, Nqobani Ndlovu, had also been arrested and detained.

In a statement Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ’s deputy general secretary said the situation is “deeply worrying”.

The NUJ has worked closely with Dumisani Sibanda and we are pleased he has been released. But the news of the arrest of his colleague Nqobani Ndlovu demonstrates the serious pressure journalists in Zimbabwe are once again under.

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NewsDay: Defunct Zimbabwe publisher fights NewsDay for its name

September 24th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

What’s in a newspaper’s name? Well, quite a lot if you follow the case currently being fought over the title of Zimbabwean newspaper NewsDay. Two publishers who used the name 15 years ago for their title are attempting to prise the name, or compensation, away from new owners Alpha Media Holdings.

Full story on NewsDay at this link…

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Journalism Daily: Reed divestment update and Chris Anderson on the media

July 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism Daily

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features

Ed’s picks

Tip of the day

#FollowJourn

On the Editors’ Blog

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BBC Editors Blog: BBC resumes operations in Zimbabwe (as does CNN)

After eight years of operating undercover, the BBC can report ‘openly and legally’ from Zimbabwe.

Clandestine operations have to be a last resort, says Jon Williams, in this post.

Now the corporation can look at setting up a bureau in Harare.

Full post at this link…

Update: The Zimbabwe Times has reported that CNN’s reporting ban has also been lifted.

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Goodbye City University: @amonck reflects on four years as journalism head

July 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Training

As reported in May,  Adrian Monck is to leave his position as head of journalism at City University, London after four years, to lead the communications team for the World Economic Forum, which holds the annual meeting for global leaders in Davos, Switzerland. Today, he bids farewell to City in this blog post, originally published here.

Although I’ll be haunting College Building for the next week or so, today is my leaving drinks (or ‘glad you’re gone’ party as we used to call them).

I’ll be keeping up a link with the place as a prof, and I’ll be trying to bash out a PhD. And I’ll also be giving a modest sum for the highest scoring MA project, which will be a prize in memory of Richard Wild. The first £250 will be handed out this autumn, so any City students reading: heads down for the finishing line!

Since I came to City in 2005, we’ve launched an MA in Journalism with new pathways in science and investigation, a Masters in Political Campaigning and Reporting, an MA in Creative Writing Non-Fiction, and a BA in Journalism. We’ve gained some fantastic new staff to go alongside the existing terrific team, including the Guardian’s David Leigh, Channel 4′s David Lloyd, ITN‘s Penny Marshall and visiting fellows like Heather Brooke and tech guru Robin Hamman. We have a distinguished scholar as head of research, Professor Howard Tumber, and we’ve just appointed Britain’s first professor of financial reporting, a chair in honour of Marjorie Deane (expect more on financial journalism soon).

We brought the Centre for Investigative Journalism to City, and its successful summer schools and hopefully there’ll be new initiatives to announce in that area soon.

We’ve established a digital core to our curriculum – there should be a partnership with Nokia coming up in the autumn.

And this year we finally moved into multi-million pound facilities (on Flickr) worthy of the talents of the people who teach and study here. And we have a Graduate School of Journalism to go alongside the best anywhere has to offer.

Best of all, I’ve witnessed the annual progression of an extraordinary group of people who’ve joined us from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and from Lancashire to Lagos – our students. Their qualities are what make so many people want to give up time to teach here. Their enthusiasms and passions are among the rewards.

It’s not all been plain sailing, as anyone who’s brushed up against me will doubtless agree. But I hope it’s been worth it. City is now, more than ever, a global school for journalism, bringing in people from around the world to share experiences and gain new insights. Its future is already being mapped out in areas like political and humanitarian campaigning, and in deepening specialist knowledge amongst those competing to enter what is still an extraordinarily privileged world.

And the privilege of journalism? It’s the privilege of speech. Maybe it’s narcissistic, maybe it’s worth dying for.

But despite our disagreements (and let’s be honest, academics have to be able to start arguments with themselves) it’s what unites me with colleagues in education, in the news business, and with new friends and acquaintances in the ever-widening world beyond.

So, with whatever voice you choose, keep speaking up.

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IOL.co.za: ‘Mugabe at the centre of press freedom row’

As reported by South Africa’s Independent Online: “If Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s daughter Bona harboured hopes of keeping a low profile while she completes her university course in Hong Kong, they were dealt a painful blow this week.

“The 20-year-old has found herself at the centre of a ferocious row over press freedom after two bodyguards protecting her were spared prosecution for grappling with two photographers outside the luxury home her father provided for her during her studies.”

Full story at this link…

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Kate Adie on 20 years since Tiananmen Square

June 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

Journalists, photographers and filmmakers came together at the Frontline Club last night for a special screening of Kate Adie’s latest documentary.

Shot entirely on tapeless cameras, the film retraces Kate’s footsteps of reporting from the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Returning to China with what she describes as ‘an open mind’, Adie found herself ‘at the mercy of relentless surveillence by the secret police’.

Adie found fame back in 1989 when she was one of the few journalists reporting from the middle of the action, amongst gunfire and dead bodies. She told the audience that she made a pact with her cameraman to stay for the sake of the story, despite the odds of them surviving being stacked against them.

This time round Kate and her crew were denied journalist visas, forcing them to effectively go undercover, under the false pretence of being tourists.

Despite being followed by numerous secret police cars throughout the filming process, she said people were ‘desperate to talk and tell their story of the events of 1989′.

At the Q&A session people were quick to ask Adie her thoughts on the state of journalism:

One journalist asked: “Do you think the quality of journalism has declined over the past 20 years, with regard to the reporting on Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka?”

Adie replied:

“Journalists have a duty to report and inform the world, the fact that people come to meetings like these here and care about global issues, tells me journalism is alive and well.”

I spoke to Kate after the screening, and asked for her reaction to the news that China has blocked a number of internet services this week:

In the UK, you can watch ‘Kate Revisits Tianamen Square’ on BBC2, tonight (June 3) at 9pm.

Alex Wood is a multimedia journalist based in London.

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The Zimbabwe Guardian: ‘Zimbabwe journalism in intensive care’

In a letter to the editor, Zimbabwean Nyarai Chidemo urges the country’s media regulators to crack down on ill-informed news reporting and propaganda in the industry.

“Our people deserve better informed presenters who can articulate issues and dissect problems intelligently. Such recycling of ignorance is detrimental to the the health of our society,” writes Chidemo.

Full post at this link…

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