“I Hate To Call Myself A Journalist”

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Opinions, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Point of View with Brian Rungano Temba

I hate to call myself a Journalist, but I would rather be identified as a content curator despite having studied Media at some local University.

But in this piece, I will resonate with colleagues in the sacrosanct profession, the Fourth Estate if you may call it.

From veteran scribes, news anchors and radio presenters to Twitter bloggers, podcast hosts and WhatsApp news peddlers – the industry has evolved from the traditional way of things to a more modern form of a medium.

It hurts to say that almost anyone with a mobile phone that has a camera is now a journalist – and yet the sacred profession requires critical thinkers who abide by ethics.

The talk of Journalists being the most honourable and self-sacrificing tradesmen in the world is something I find hard to swallow without diluting the bile of hypocrisy on my face.

There are no saints in the trade, and I will gladly burn for saying it.  Jesus is coming anyway.

However, the lack or absence of a National Employment Council within the industry has cultivated more rot in the trade.

Brown envelope journalism, extortion, unethical reportage, biased coverage, fake news, character assassination, and many other wrongs have been committed for the dollar.

Well, if it was for money, is the wage or salary not enough? Who do the journalists talk to when their cost of living and income don’t tally?

Enter the Ghost of an NEC that never was.

Zororai Nkomo a Zimbabwean journalist, lawyer and social justice advocate, described the anatomy of this creature called NEC so clearly in an article he wrote for Business Times and this is what he said,

“Section 65(1) of the Zimbabwean Constitution clearly states that every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage.

This section also protects our unsung heroes, members of the Fourth Estate and other journalists.

Section 65(2) further states that except for members of security services, every person has the right to form and join trade unions and employee or employer’s organisations of their choice and to participate in the lawful activities of those unions and organisations.

Although there is a National Employment Council for Printing Industry, it cannot sufficiently address the challenges of journalists in Zimbabwe.

National Employment Council which will be referred to as NEC in this article, is a creature of statute, meaning it’s a product of legislation, or an Act of Parliament which is the Labour Act (Chapter 28:1). All NECs in Zimbabwe falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

NEC is a bipartite labour relations body with a specific mandate to deal with labour issues for a specific industry or sector.

It is composed of two social parties, one party represents the Employers Association (Employer) and the other party represents the Trade Union (Employees).

Although there is a National Employment Council for Printing Industry, it cannot sufficiently address the challenges of journalists in Zimbabwe.”

In these trying times it’s easier for some colleagues to morph into info mercenaries. With a large enough following or links to a platform that has a sizeable audience, they can peddle anything for the right price.

No wonder there are polarising voices in the media regarding National Pride. And they all seem more politically fueled than social or economic.