“Social media are the most accessible means of information”

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BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
A recent study by Media Monitors found that social media, especially the WhatsApp is the most accessible information medium in Zimbabwe, ahead of the print and broadcast media.

The study titled Analysis of community media and information needs on governance and development issues was carried out in four provinces of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Harare and Mashonaland Central from April 2020 to April 2021, with funding from the European Union and International Media Support.

“All community members interviewed indicated that social media was the most accessible medium compared to print media, broadcasting or other means of obtaining information such as community meetings,” reads. on in the Media Monitors report.

“The lack of electricity in different communities was cited as one of the main obstacles to accessing radio and television. The limited or delayed distribution of newspapers in communities has also reduced their accessibility to communities. WhatsApp was considered the most accessible platform, although the high cost of data packets was cited as a barrier.

According to the report, participants in all four provinces indicated that media coverage of service delivery among other issues affecting communities was low.

In West Mashonaland, participants noted that issues relevant to their communities were generally covered by community information platforms.

“The residents also noted that the Facebook, there are groups where issues affecting the provinces are discussed. For Mashonaland Central, participants noted that social media is more reliable in responding to informal sector issues and service delivery issues. They pointed out that access to mainstream information, especially from print media, is delayed compared to social media, as issues are addressed in real time.

While politicians and community leaders reportedly indicated that their interests were represented 80% of the time, residents and community organizations revealed that their interests were not taken seriously.

The representation of OCBs and community residents was 25% and 32%, respectively.

Health reports, especially stories of COVID-19, were also reportedly given top priority in 2020 and 2021, while women’s voices only made up 24% of reporting.

Mashonaland West would have presented the most female votes at 43%, against Mashonaland West at 18% and Mashonaland Central at 18%.

The report says the media continued to use stereotypical or callous language when portraying marginalized groups, including women.

Zimbabwe Media Commission Commissioner Susan Makore said the problem of women’s under-representation in the media needed to be rectified as they made up over 52% of the population.

“We also understand that most of the media in this country has male editors. We need to have a serious conversation with the editors to see how we can fix this problem, ”Makore said.

Standard’s editor-in-chief Kholwani Nyathi said the media focused on city-centric news because they could not afford to send journalists to rural areas due to resource constraints.


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