Media practitioners and journalists have been implored to also value and pursue human interest stories, which resonate well with citizens’ day to day lives.
Commentators believe that gone are the days when only conflicts, disaster, and politics reporting can sell the paper, saying even community and stories with the human face can also push newspaper sales.
Political and media analyst Elder Mabhunu says in the current trying times, its high time that media practitioners in Zimbabwe think outside the box and take onboard human interest issues that citizens can easily relate to, if the papers are to increase survival chances.
“I urge media practitioners in Zimbabwe to move away from the notion that only political, disaster, or conflicts stories can sell the paper. Imagine if things in this country were to normalise, can’t the newspapers survive from writing good human interest stories? Yes they can.
“Stories with a human face, that looks into how certain circumstances are affecting the downtrodden person on the street can sell the paper.
“I remember some time ago when I was based in Australia, I enjoyed those stories (through online newspapers) that chronicled how the failing Zimbabwean economy was affecting a granny in Binga, a cattle herder down in Chipinge or an 83 year old grandpa in Muzarabani,” he recalls.
Mabhunu narrates how he recently enjoyed one such human faced story in which scores of cash-strapped resident’s of Marondera have resorted to sleeping in a Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) bus to avoid missing it.
The bus leaves the Mashonaland East capital at 06:00 hours with the return journey late in the day, and travelers wishing to catch it in the morning had to go as far as sleeping in the bus.
The government-owned bus charges ZW$1.50 for the 74km journey while private operators demand around ZW$10 and ZW$15 for the same trip.
This reporter who was in Marondera today can confirm the fare ranges, paid ZW$10 aboard a commuter omnibus in the morning, and on the return was luck to catch a ZUPCO bus for only $1.50.
Mabhunu adds that its high time journalists should get down to the simple person on the street, where the untold story lies.
Meanwhile award winning, and 2008 Cable News Network African Journalist of the year, Hopewell Chin’ono agrees that the media should also pursue human interest pieces in their reportage.
He says most Zimbabweans are employed in the informal market. For instance, those working at places like, Magaba or Siya-So in Mbare, welders, carpenters, e.t.c. need electricity but are failing to get it because of the loadsheding currently obtaining in the country. He adds that to make matters worse those who try to use generators have no access to fuel, and he implores the media to put such human interest stories in the limelight, so that the reader can get a feel; to what extent the power shortages is affecting the informal economy.
“One untold story is of maids and house keepers who are waking up at 22.30hrs daily to iron clothes, gardeners and township folks who are going kuchigayo (grinding mills) at 22.30hrs because power is only available at night.
“These are the untold human stories which the media misses,” he says.
Be that as it may, as the country’s unyielding economy is continuing on the downward spiral, amid political confrontations, most journalists have been allegedly chasing the so-called big stories, at the expense of juicy human interest ones. Analysts believe even the less reported so-called small stories can sell the paper if properly written.
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