HomeOpinionEditor's Memo: Mudslinging will not deter Zimind

Editor’s Memo: Mudslinging will not deter Zimind

FAITH ZABA
WHEN they go low, we go high” — is a famous catch phase by the charismatic former United States First Lady Michelle Obama.

She said this during the 2016 Democratic National Convention while discussing how to “handle bullies” in support of Hilary Clinton’s bid for the White House.

My initial reaction, when colleagues and friends from across the globe alerted me about the attacks on social media, was to ignore the aspersions cast on the Zimbabwe Independent brand, and on my person as the editor.

However, upon reflection, I realised that I have a responsibility to protect the Zimind brand.

I am also bound to set the record straight against the slanderous and unprovoked attacks on social media. I am one of the few women in a sector dominated by men that has shattered the glass-ceiling thus many young female journalists look up to me.

I also have a greater calling to protect my reputation and legacy as I am coordinating a womentorship programme for upcoming journalists entering a media sector given to discriminating against women.

Last year, we launched a mentorship programme, sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. We mentored more than a hundred young journalists and journalism students from Harare, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. This year, the number is expected to double as we add others from Masvingo and Manicaland provinces. With all humility, this month, I celebrate 30 years in the media — 10 years of which I spent at Ziana, which at that time was the top news agency in Africa and 20 years in private media.

Of the 20 years, 13 years are at Zimind where I rose from political editor to the current position through hard work. I wrote many breaking news stories — too numerous to count. This includes some of the top investigative stories to come out of Zimbabwe.

I find it quite surprising that colleagues cast doubts on my professionalism. Several colleagues called and agonised on what they described as an undeserving attacks, saying my work as a journalist surely speaks for itself. The journey has been a long and bumpy one. It took me 27 years to get to the top. I was appointed the first female deputy editor in 2016 and then the first female editor in 2019 of Zimind, which I would say was due recognition.

As the first female editor, there were many who wanted the job. Some thought I was undeserving and fought hard to bring me down. Sadly, the onslaught continues but it has been unsuccessful thus far. It is disheartening that colleagues continue to disparage me unabated. They endlessly cast aspersions on me as a woman.

As a woman working at my level is war. Every day when I wake up to do what I love, I face unfathomable battles. The slow rise of women in the media in Zimbabwe has had nothing to do with competence issues. It’s all centred on structural rigidity.

This is made worse by the fact that Zimbabwe is still patriarchal and women continue to face the worst kind of gender abuse through subtle and overt sexism, undermined and ignored for promotion, bullying, exclusion from the “boys club” and decision-making and “paying the family penalty”, that is, having children.

It is sad that the attacks have come as we wind up the month that the world is celebrating women under the hashtag #BreakTheBias.

As the editor, I believe in the Zimind and all it stands for. I am delighted to be working with an amazing team of editors, sub-editors, writers, designers, printers, sales and marketing colleagues who are all committed to produce a high quality product every week. The Zimind mission statement is to be the trusted, credible and exciting provider of media services and experiences.

We have continued to be a professional, credible, reliable, trustworthy and dependable media outlet, abiding by the journalistic standards and ethics upon which the Zimind was founded. These include the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. We have never deviated from these founding principles in our professional approach to news coverage.

We are not cheer-leaders of political factions or sectoral interests even at the height of factional tensions in both the ruling and opposition parties. That’s not what we stand for! I expect the attacks to continue but this will not derail our objectives and principles. We will continue providing cutting-edge products that will dominate the market.

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