The Zimbabwe New Media Summit is back after a one year hiatus. Hosted by the Zimbabwe Centre for Media and Information Literacy with support from the Konrad Adenuer Stiftung, the summit will take place virtually on July 21-23 under the theme “Reimagining Journalism and Democracy in Times of Crisis.”
By Divine Dube | Summit Coordinator | Zimbabwe Centre for Media and Information Literacy
When the first wave of the coronavirus hit most parts of the world in early 2020, many newsrooms saw record levels of traffic and engagement in the early stages of the outbreak. While a few were forced to shut down, many media outlets launched new products such as coronavirus-themed podcasts, alerts and newsletters designed to cater for the rising demand for information.
African newsrooms were not left out. While some local newsrooms were forced to abandon print productions due to restrictions in human movement and closure of some businesses, the disruption inspired others to develop new methods of storytelling and distribution. Although the pandemic has receded in several countries across Africa and the rest of the world, many newsrooms have maintained their “COVID-19 products” such as e-papers, online-first podcasts and infographics. While many of us crave a return to ‘normalcy’, the reality is likely to be different as we emerge warily into a world where the physical and virtual coexist in new ways (Nieman Report, 2021).
While the coronavirus is still raging in many countries across the world, Africa included, we’re excited to announce the third edition of our annual digital media and journalism conference dubbed the Zim New Media Summit.
In 2020 the conference failed to take off. This year’s summit will be held virtually due to gathering restrictions imposed by our home country, Zimbabwe, due to the emergence of the third wave of the coronavirus. The summit which comes at a time when journalism and democracy all over the world are in an existential crisis will be held under the theme “Re-imagining Journalism and Democracy in Times of Crisis”.
The summit will take place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and other debilitating events that confront journalism and democracy such as the crackdown of independent journalists in several African countries such as Zimbabwe and Uganda and raids by jihadist militants from the Islamic State group (IS) in northern Mozambique. The conference will explore a wide range of themes such as innovation in journalism education, data journalism, emerging genres of journalism, crisis reporting and the rise of fake news and propaganda during pandemics.
For the first time since the first edition in 2018, the conference will host a digital journalism innovation festival on the first day of the conference to showcase the best of African journalism, especially exciting products such as podcasts, e-papers and infographics amongst others, launched during the COVID-19 period.
We will select at least two newsrooms, especially those that are not government-owned, to make presentations about their products to encourage cross-pollination and replication of ideas across Africa.
This year more than fifty percent of the speakers are drawn from many parts of Africa as they can make presentations virtually, from anywhere.
To give our participants the best experience, we have trailblazing speakers drawn from across Africa including newsroom innovators such as Style Charalambous and Simon Alison from the Daily Maverick and the Mail and Guardian respectively.
Since exorbitant internet data costs in several parts of Africa prohibit users from actively participating in virtual events, we plan to ensure that most of the content from our conference reaches average people across Africa through cheap and accessible platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
We also plan to leverage partnerships with newsrooms across Africa, and like-minded media development organizations to reach new and diverse audiences.