Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Netsai Mlilo

By IWPR
  • A baby is left unattended while it's mother pans for gold in a river. (Photo: IWPR)
    A baby is left unattended while it's mother pans for gold in a river. (Photo: IWPR)

Although I have not been writing consistently for IWPR, my association with the organisation has helped me develop as a journalist working in Zimbabwe.

The training, mentoring and networking opportunities I received have helped me to improve my writing and make it more meaningful to readers.

“The training, mentoring and networking opportunities I received [from IWPR] have helped me to improve my writing and make it more meaningful to readers.”

Ordinarily, a good story is hard to find. Though in Zimbabwe, story ideas emanating from the crisis abound, the challenge is coming up with a thought-provoking angle and writing it in such a way that it is interesting and beneficial to readers.

I have been able to learn how to do this effectively through the help and guidance of IWPR’s editors.

IWPR's exacting reporting standards have impressed on me the need to include different voices with different perspectives to produce balanced articles that go beyond informing readers of the latest political developments.

The experience of writing for IWPR has helped me to remain focused on how unusual the Zimbabwean situation is.

Given the rate of the country’s collapse, it is easy for journalists to become blind to the stories that need telling.

By probing and asking pertinent questions – as demanded by IWPR – I have been able to tell part of the Zimbabwean story from an ordinary person's perspective.

IWPR has taught me to go back to one of the basics of journalism and to approach members of the public to ask them to come up with what they believe are the solutions to the problems they face. Reporting in this way has helped me highlight how desperate the Zimbabwean situation has become.

“Despite the legal and logistical challenges of reporting in Zimbabwe, I strive to give ordinary Zimbabweans a chance to tell their own stories by including ordinary people's voices in reports.”

The organisation's high standards have also helped me leave behind the growing phenomenon of “officialdom reporting” in Zimbabwe, where only government officials and politicians – usually males – make the news every day with their rhetoric.

Despite the legal and logistical challenges of reporting in Zimbabwe, I strive to give ordinary Zimbabweans a chance to tell their own stories by including ordinary people's voices in reports.

Lessons learned from this training have cascaded through all of my reporting, not just that which I have produced for IWPR.

Overall, I would say IWPR has helped me to keep my journalistic eyes wide open and encouraged me to view the various facets of the Zimbabwean crisis from different standpoints other than that of politicians and bureaucrats.

My only hope is that I will be able to write more frequently and continue to receive the high level of editorial guidance that I have enjoyed since I first began writing for the project.

I believe such guidance will be critical as Zimbabwe attempts to resolve its political and economic crisis. The media has a crucial role to play in this process by reporting not only what politicians are saying, but also conveying the point of view of the country’s citizens.

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