The real story can only be from the public media

COMMUNION with BISHOP LAZARUS
Muckraker thought he had a point complaining about the decision that was taken by the public media not to cover the incident involving the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe that took place about two weeks ago.

JUST a simple question before plunging into today’s sermon — don’t you think it was shocking political naivety, some mild political suicide for Joice Mujuru not to attend the burial of Cde George Rutanhire and Gogo Moudy Muzenda at the National Heroes Acre yesterday?

We all can understand why Tsvangirai would choose to stay away from the burial of such heroes considering his Western political parentage, but not Joice who owes her birth to heroes such as Cde Rutanhire. Joice failing to come to bury Gogo Muzenda? Why? Vadii zvavo Gogo?

Joice had the opportunity kungosvika paHeroes Acre paya wogara nechekoko and bury these liberation war stalwarts. Kuti ndoda kuona kuti munondidii, I have come to bury my fellow comrades? She would have done herself lots of political good. But then Sekuru vangu Matope (may his soul rest in peace) would say, “apa hapana kanascope dhonoro.” It’s a shame really, but these are the opposition politicians we have. Tingadii?

Rest in peace Cde George “Pakadii Apo!” Rutanhire. Rest in peace Gogo Muzenda! Our hearts are not troubled at all because we believe in God.

John 14 vs 1 consoles us saying “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” We will never forget!

Now to today’s sermon. Whoever calls himself Muckraker at the struggling Zimbabwe Independent seems to be trying to invent some new type of journalism.

Someone needs to teach this misguided writer something called editorial analytics, which in very simple terms assists journalists and news organisations become more data informed in aligning their editorial priorities and organisational imperatives.

This shadowy character last Friday tried to lecture the public media on what is news and how to cover the news. Muckraker thought he had a point complaining about the decision that was taken by the public media not to cover the incident involving the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe that took place about two weeks ago.

In his warped thinking, this shadowy character thought this was some scandal and unethical. I laughed and many in my congregation joined in the laughter when they discovered that dofo riri kunumber last ririkuda kuudza shasha how to go about the media business. Chimira unzwe hudofo hwacho mudikani.

The public media and the private media are competitors in some space which German sociologist and philosopher Jurgen Habermas calls the public sphere. This public sphere is like a marketplace of ideas. In other words, in this sphere kunotengeswa maideas and media organisations are some of the institutions that are in the business of selling ideas to the people.

Now, tell me dear congregants, why would a competitor try to lecture to another what constitutes a good story? If the story was that good, why didn’t the Zimbabwe Independent take advantage to increase its ever-dwindling sales and adverts?

Wasn’t this the opportunity for the Zimbabwe Independent to cover ground seeing that it’s stale political stories haven’t been pushing sales and adverts in a very long time?

Why was the Muckraker worried about what was happening at the public media? Do we need to lecture the Muckraker on something called the political economy of the media? Or we can even make it a bit simpler and lecture to him about something called editorial policy?

Well, we won’t waste our valuable space and time. Vanhu ngavaende kuchikoro. But Bishop Lazarus knows why Muckraker was hurt by the decision that was taken by the public media. It’s not a secret that a story is only a story when it’s given coverage by the public media. And so Muckraker was really hurt by the decision because it exposed the private media.

Following the incident, the private media went to town writing all sorts of stories but like I preached last week, even after the plethora of stories, you could feel that the real story has not yet been told. That story can only be told by the public media.

We all know that news organisations today are competing for attention in an ever-more competitive and constantly changing media environment.

No one can take their audience for granted. The battle for attention is a central challenge for journalism because its public role is premised on connecting with an audience.

Statistics clearly show that the public media has never taken its audience for granted. If anyone doubts this, the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS) is there. Figures don’t lie. Just google and you will discover that the Zimbabwe Independent is the least qualified to lecture to the public media about news coverage. Ngavanyarare zvavo kuti zii, vatange vambokura.

Bishop Lazarus knows that to ensure the effect of authenticity and truthfulness, journalistic texts rely on a set of professional practices, routines and textual conventions that were developed to guarantee that this process of construction or representation is as accurate, or mimetic as some scholars prefer to call it.

This Bishop is also fully aware that on a daily basis journalism has to convince its public that what is written or broadcast actually happened in real life. The above is what is supposed to happen but it seems like it’s not happening like that at the Zimbabwe Independent.

Authenticity and truthfulness are proving to be scarce commodities at the paper while efforts to convince the public that “we are a serious paper” have fallen flat. That’s why Muckraker was making frantic efforts to rope in the public media in covering the South African story.

The private media failed to come up with a convincing representation of events that took place in South Africa. They failed to transform their interpretation of events in South Africa into reality and, naturally, the wondering public was not convinced.

The Zimbabwe Independent was beaten to the story by the social media and they thought maybe if Big Brother public media was with us, we would have won this battle. Well, Big Brother public media had more serious issues to focus on.

There was nothing scandalous and unethical about the decision that was taken by the public media. Nothing at all. The public media inetsoro dzayo and private media inetsoro dzayo. Zvekuti kwanhingi kwabikwa nei unei nazvo? Bikai mbodza yenyu mudye, muti mwiii!

Bishop is out!

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