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U.S., Zim media experts laud non-profit journalism

A United States media expert has challenged non-profit journalism to strive for high standards of transparency to gain public trust whilst cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with communities to sustain their work.

Non-profit journalism operates without the concern of dividends and the need to make a profit. Most depend on individual donations and or grants to pay for operational expenses.

“One of the things that really distinguishes nonprofit journalism, in my opinion, it’s one of the highest standards, is transparency,” said Lorie Hearn, Chief Executive Officer of inewssource based in San Diego in the United States.

“We pride ourselves on being totally transparent about where we get our money, we list everyone who gives us a contribution on our website; and we are very transparent about our reporting.”

Hearn was the guest speaker during a Twitter Spaces panel discussion featuring Zimbabwean veteran journalist Zenzele Ndebele on Wednesday.

The Twitter Spaces event was hosted by the United States Embassy.

Hearn emphasized the public service role of non-profit journalism and underscored the importance of community engagement to sustain non-profit journalism. “…we exist to serve the people…we hope to uncover wrongdoings and inequities and see that there is positive change as a result of our work,” she said.

“…we have to constantly tell people that your life circumstance is better because of what we have been able to reveal, and in order to keep doing this work we need some support… I do not believe there is such a thing as objectivity. There is such a thing as fairness and that’s what we have to strive for.”

Contributing to the same discussion, Ndebele who runs the Center for Technology Enterprise in Zimbabwe (Cite-ZW) said non-profit journalism was on the ascendancy in Zimbabwe as a result of the COVID19 pandemic and availability of the internet.

He expressed fears that proposed laws to regulate non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe would impact negatively on their operations.

“I believe the (NGO legislation amendment) proposals are a serious violation of freedom of association and many others,” said Ndebele.

“It’s not going to only affect NGOs that are involved in democracy and good governance work, but also going to affect churches that are registered….and a lot of people in communities in Zimbabwe who are supported by NGOs…”

Cite—ZW’s works, said Ndebele, ensure public access to information through social media sites including WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. All political parties and interest groups are given equal attention.

In his remarks, United States Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Thomas Hastings said the Twitter Space discussions would explore key aspects of protecting Free Speech in line with renewed democracy, a key foreign policy priority in the United States.

“These discussions feature American experts sharing their experience grappling with the challenges to freedom of speech, how they have worked to protect freedom of speech, how they have celebrated and embraced the freedom of speech where it exists,” said Hastings. “Our hope is that the lessons of these American experts will then resonate and be useful with our friends and partners around the world, and of course, here, particularly in Zimbabwe.”

Access the full discussion on:

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