Zimbabwe: ‘Young Female Journos Must Not Be Defined By Gender’

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YOUNG female journalists have been urged to refuse to be defined by gender, to cast nets wide by venturing into different beats to gain experience and remain relevant in the media industry.

This was said by senior female journalists during a three-day mentorship workshop which ended in Bulawayo on Sunday.

Generally, beats like crime, politics, Sport and photography are male-dominated in newsrooms and female journalists are left to do so-called softer beats.

In sport, they cover minority or non-contact disciplines like netball and athletics.

There are also few females in decision making positions in newsrooms.

The workshop was organised by Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and ran under the theme “Journalism for the future”.

The key facilitators were Sunday Mail editor Victoria Ruzvidzo, Zimbabwe Independent editor Faith Zaba, ZiFM senior reporter Martha Mamombe, veteran photojournalist Anne Mpalume and Bridget Mananavire from Newshawks.

Zaba dispelled the notion that the politics beat was meant for male reporters only.

“I have discovered that female journalists are scared to cover politics. The reasons being fear of abuse by politicians, fear for their own lives from politicians and their security details.

“However, it is not so.

“Though threats can be there at times, it is important for fellow female reporters to write well researched and balanced stories backed by evidence to earn respect in the industry,” she said.

Ruzvidzo spoke about the “surviving tool kit” in the newsroom and urged young females to view themselves as journalists and not as female journalists.

“Journalism is for the brave, but to be a female journalist is daring,” she said.

She said fellow female journalists should hunt for the positives, work hard, be willing to take up challenging beats and not to accept sexual favours at the workplace.

Mpalume, a veteran photo-journalist, challenged fellow female journalists to consider photo journalism as there are few women in photography in the country.

She urged young journalists to learn how to use the camera besides just being good writers.

She called on them to be innovative, daring and bold in order to come up with distinct pictures.

Mamombe urged those with interest in radio broadcasting to acquaint themselves with broadcasting operating systems and audio-visual software.

“Radio is theatre of the ears, therefore you need to give life to what you are saying,” she said.

“The way you speak is not necessarily the way you should sound on air and practice does not make perfect but makes permanent.”

Mamombe also spoke about the importance of corporate etiquette and social media presence.

Mananavire emphasised the need to be thorough, comprehensive and accurate when doing investigative pieces to avoid lawsuits.

Reporters, she said, should remain ethical while conducting investigations

FNF programmes manager Fungisai Sithole said the programme was a success and the response from upcoming journalists was overwhelming.

“As an organisation we believe in grooming and nurturing young leaders who make an impact in society.

“We desire to see young female journalists occupying key positions in the newsrooms that are male dominated, based on competence.”

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