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Zimbabwean online news sites in shambles?

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Zimbabwean online newspapers owned by Zimbabweans in the diaspora seem to be going through a crisis period because they are failing to define their role in society. I would like to assume that some of them just want the ‘prestige’ of owning an online news site.

Some of them like TALKZIMBABWE use a good deal of their space covering international stories. Their entertainment section is mostly about white international stars. Does this mean the editor doesn’t know of any Zimbabwean stars that are worth his recogniton? I wish he could stop sending me emails referring me to his website. The truth is I don’t mind getting emails from fellow Zimbabweans referring me to their websites. My problem is when people refer me to their sites to read stuff like this,

“Cassandra Wilson grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to become one of the top jazz singer-songwriters of the 1990s. She was playing the guitar and piano by age 9, and by the '70s was performing with an assortment of R&B bands.

Wilson moved to New Orleans in the '80s, and her moving, expressive voice garnered her a reputation as an emerging soul singer. Later, she moved to New York City, where she impressed those on the jazz-club circuit, but always remained true to her Mississippi roots.

In 1996, she won a Grammy for her album New Moon Daughter, which combined original tracks with classic and re-imagined cover songs from the likes of U2, Hank Williams and The Monkees.

Wilson continues to make albums that draw heavily from her Southern background and contemporary sounds — last year's Thunderbird even dabbles in hip-hop — while helping to produce unheralded local musicians as founder of Ojah Media Group.”

Personally I don’t want to know about these Cassandra’s not because I don’t like them but because they don’t want to know about me as well. In any case such kind of news is very inappropriate to me. It doesn’t make any sense to me because I don’t even know who Cassandra Wilson is and I’m not interested in knowing her. Such kind of stories are plenty plus on this Zimbabwean website. Why not talk more about Zimbabwe? Well it’s not my site and I don’t have to dictate what other people load on their websites. It’s only that the name TALKZIMBABWE gives me the impression that the editor will be talking about Zimbabwe. My impression could be wrong. After all what’s in a name?

A little bit of Western news to spice up the news is fine of course, but a whole lot of it makes the whole idea of coming up with a Zimbabwean news site useless. In any case there are plenty of western sites that cover western stories, and their immoral entertainers. So I guess Zimbabweans who are interested in knowing how many men or women these Western have slept with in a month can just follow the links to their sites. Why not leave Zimbabwean news sites to mostly Zimbabwean issues? Maybe their most appropriate name should be TALKAMERICA and not TALKZIMBAWE. That way I will not be bothered.

As if this is not enough. Day in day out we read about almost the same stuff on these Zimbabwean news sites. Most of these online papers engage in copying and pasting as if they were trained only to do this if ever they are trained journalists.

This bad and irresponsible habit is very common and up to now I don’t even have a wild hint as to why they do this. Is it because there’s no other news to report on or it’s because of laziness? I wonder. Only a few of them come up with fresh news once in a while. The rest re- cycle the same news making it useless for readers to visit all the sites to read news. Maybe they should just form one site ALLZIMBABWENEWS.COM where they will all copy and paste their news into. The truth though is they might end up with one different story per week because the rest will be the same. I thought journalism was not a very difficult profession, but it looks like a completely wrong assumption. If it’s easy then why do they copy and paste the same stories? I thought gathering news was one of the easiest things one can do and they should actually be running out of space and not news. Maybe the writing part of the news makes the profession difficult. They know better.

Some of them load their sites with You tube videos of Western musicians. Inferiority complex seems to be killing their brains. I would prefer to watch Violet Moyo’s video every day if there are no other Zimbabwean videos to watch than waste my eyes watching Jennifer Lopez’s video posted by the editor on a Zimbabwean news site. What irritates me though is on non Zimbabwean news sites they hardly talk about us unless it’s something negative. Reminds me of the video about University of Zimbabwe prostitutes that was produced by this non-Zimbabwean site. Why can’t our journalists here expose the bad side of this people as well instead of promoting them unnecessarily? That will be the day when I see Violet Moyo ‘s video on The Sun website, in the entertainment section.

On a different note, I’m sure most of us know that most of the columnists on the sites in question are moving English dictionaries. I don’t know whether they cram English dictionaries or not but my point is I don’t enjoy reading much of their stuff.

I’m sure most of us know that most of the columnists on the sites in question are moving English dictionaries. I don’t know whether they cram English dictionaries or not but my point is I don’t enjoy reading much of their stuff, worse for the fact that they only write and don’t do anything about what they write about. If I’m to read what they write about I read the first two sentences of paragraph one, skip paragraph two, three and four. I then read the first sentence of paragraph five, skip paragraph six and seven. I go on to paragraph eight and read the last phrase after which I close the page. Not that I won’t be interested in what they will be discussing, but because I can’t stand the vhokos (jargon) they use. It makes sad reading. For the same reason I rarely read Arthur Mutambara’s speeches.

Believe me you, some of the Zimbabwe online papers editors choose to ‘fight’ each other instead of focusing on their role as our responsible informers. They don’t see eye to eye at all. I think they underestimate their influence in society. I don’t understand why they should be competing against each other instead of working together as one people for the betterment of our society. Are they not supposed to share ideas, advice and all the other perks that come with good journalism?

Some of them convince you that they respect freedom of speech on their forums and all other empty assurances that come with their package. You visit their forums and the moment you exercise the freedom of speech they preach they delete your topics and even ban you from the forums. They want you to always speak good about them. If you criticise them negatively that will be the end of your contributions. What they don’t understand is, negative comments build us to be the best, whilst flattery destroys us. They remind me of Sekuru vaChatunga.

At times I ask myself why I ‘m even singing for him to go and yet these dictatorial tendencies are in many of us blacks, implying that the chances of getting a leader for Zimbabwe who is not a dictator are very slim, if not impossible. It therefore means that I might have to die a protest musician then. I wouldn’t like to. The way some of these editors show off on their forums makes me wonder if having an online forum is the best thing that has happened in their lives. The good thing though is 99.9% of the contributors are Internet ‘ghosts’ whose identity is not known. I don’t take pseudonyms seriously. Why then do these editors feel as if they own the world and yet they own ‘ghost lands’? I can go on and on but let me end here. I have enough enemies.

Viomak is a protest Musician famed for her album happy 82nd birthday President R.G Mugabe (Zimbabwe Classics 1 Emotions of the emotionless) and now she has her second album happy 83rd birthday President R.G Mugabe (Zimbabwe Classics 2 Bones of a 30 year old) yet another dedication to suffering Zimbabweans. Visit www.viomakmusic.com

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