The Independent Press in in Zimbabwe

Sarah Helen Chiumbu, M. Phil.

We see ourselves as an objective, highly-informative, entertaining and popular news magazine and our aim is to present what we perceive to be a highly-intelligent and participatory readership, the best and most balanced news reports on social, political, cultural, sporting, and other topical issues. Parade has no political agenda, and will publish articles as factually, accurately, and as fully as is possible ... (Editorial comment of Parade, June 1991).

The above quotation describes the way Parade; and, to a certain extent, Horizon perceive themselves. The word "entertaining" refers to the magazines' coverage of 'soft' news such as sport, music, art and so on and 'popular' refers to their mass appeal and wide distribution networks. Moto lacks this popular base because it mainly deals with 'serious' issues. Its heavy and analytical style might not attract as socially wide an audience as Parade and Horizon.

Moto and Parade were the only magazines at independence that targeted a 'black readership'. Moto, then a weekly newspaper, had played a crucial role in the coverage of the liberation war, until 1974 when it was banned. When it re-emerged in 1980, as again a newspaper and then a magazine in May 1982, it still had its old political credibility. Its oppositional discourse continued in the new nation. Parade had managed to survive the liberation war and the UDI censorship laws. In the 1970s, Parade had changed from being a populist and politically-minded mass-appeal magazine, to that of a tired and trashy colour pin-up monthly (Saunders 1991: 179). It retained this format until 1984 when it was sold to Thomson Publications where its image changed from its apolitical role to that of political and social analysis under a new editorial group. Thomson Publications introduced a new editorial team. The magazine was revamped and began to develop a reputation for investigative journalism. Parade then became Zimbabwe's largest and most widely-read publication. The popularity of both magazines enabled them to become a forum on popular issues. In 1991, a new magazine with hard-hitting investigative news appeared on the scene. Horizon, established by the former editor of Parade, Andy Moyse, joined the ranks of Moto and Parade, playing more or less the same role. These publications' readership is mainly middle-class: intellectuals, professionals, students and so on. However, their distribution network also reaches the rural areas.

The independent press in Zimbabwe enjoys the absence of direct government control in the form of pre-publication censorship. It normally covers several issues marginalised by the state-controlled press. Nonetheless, the independent press ' failed' in articulating this 'crisis of the nation'. From my analysis, I found that the independent press played a very minor role in exposing the human rights abuses in Matebeleland.


[from Sarah Helen Chiumbu, Democracy, Human Rights, and the Media: A CAse Study of Two Human Rights Organizations and the Media in Zimbabwe. Oslo: University of Oslo, 1997, pages 98-99. Available from Available from Department of Media and Communications [info@media.uio.no].


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Last Modified: 21 March, 2002