Sunday, May 30, 2010

How iPad may make the future of newspapers a different story

The iPad goes on sale in Britain for the first time today, with many in the newspaper industry backing it to change journalism.

The Apple device, which has already sold more than 1 million in the US, has been much anticipated in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have placed orders.

Many media organisations think that it will give them the opportunity to correct past mistakes with online journalism, allowing them to charge customers for content and in return provide an enriched experience more compelling and interactive than printed newspapers.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times already offer iPad applications that allow users to play games, read books and navigate maps.

The Times also intends to introduce its own iPad app for a monthly subscription. This newspaper and The Sunday Times launched new websites this week, and have announced that they will begin charging for the online editions of newspapers. From next month, users will be offered a week's subscription for £2, or a day's access for £1, to two new sites — and

News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, said that the the introduction of paid-for digital editions of its newspapers was essential to get a fair price for its journalism, with the present strategy of giving away articles free on the internet unsustainable.

Sceptics, such as Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, have argued that revenues from online advertising will be enough to sustain quality journalism in the long term.

Many experts have been impressed with the iPad's ability to display news in a new, and possibly valuable, way. "I think it will provide an experience that is unprecedented in the print world, but also on the web," Paolo Pescatore, an analyst from CCS Insight, said. "Even the early iPad apps give a higher level of engagement than any other platform today."

Others claim that iPad newspaper apps are only part of the solution, as titles try to find ways to make new revenues as sales of print editions fall.

"It's interesting, it's pretty, it has lots of advantages for news," Benedict Evans, from Enders Analysis, said. "But 10 million pay for a daily newspaper in the UK. They spend roughly £30 a month each. There will not be 10 million people spending £30 a month on the iPad any time soon."

Figures from Ipsos MediaCT showed that many potential iPad owners would access news through the device. The survey indicated that 45 per cent would be interested in using the device to view news through websites, with almost three in ten using newspaper applications.

Queues are expected at Apple's 27 stores and other authorised stockists, with the device available only on a first-come, first-served basis from 8am.

Jake Lee, 17, from Theydon Bois, Essex, was the first in line outside Apple's store in Regent Street, Central London, arriving at noon yesterday. He could have ordered the device in advance, but said: "I just came down for the atmosphere, and I don't think I could have waited. I'm a gadget lover."

However, he will not be able to claim that he is the first in Britain to get an iPad. Hundreds reported on Twitter that they had received one a day early.

One user said: "My iPad has just arrived (1 day early). UPS delivery guy says he's delivering lots today. I get the impression his van is full of them."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Help comes for distressed private media as WAMDEF begins accepting applications

The West Africa Media Development Fund (WAMDeF) which was recently launched has commenced accepting applications from distressed Private Independent media organizations.

The fund which is an initiative of the Media Foundation for West Africa is set up to give financial and technical support to private media organizations within the West African Sub region.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Kwasi Asare, the fund commences funding in Ghana, Togo and Mali in its first year of operations and will expand into other West African Countries subsequently.

With initial partnership with Free Voice, The Southern Africa Media Development Fund, and The Media Development Loan Fund, the fund has the objective of providing cheap financial and technical aid to Independent Private Media. This is expected to grow and strengthen West Africa's various young democracies. Applicants may visit their website for more information.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Call for Proposals OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9 Pakistan, October 4-9 2010

The next international conference OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9 will take place in Jamshoro, Pakistan, from 4 to 9 October 2010, and will be hosted by the Center for Rural Development Communication, at the University of Sindh. This University is well known for its multicultural environment in a safe region south of the country, not far from Karachi, a major city with international airport. 

OurMedia | NuestrosMedios is a global and multicultural network of scholars, artists media practitioners and activists related to communication for social change. The first conference took place in Washington DC in 2001. Since then, the network has expanded and strengthened over five continents, with annual events in Barranquilla (Colombia), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Bangalore (India), Sydney (Australia), Accra (Ghana) and Rio Negro (Colombia).

Among the objectives of OurMedia | NuestrosMedios are: to support the strengthening of cultural identity, enhance participation in policy making and processes of governance, make visible cultural and gender diversity, promote arts for social change, as well as defend the right to communicate of all peoples. 

The website displays extensive information on previous conferences as well as on the network, and it will shortly provide details about the next conference in Pakistan. 

The deadline for submission of abstracts (200 words) is June 30th 2010, and if accepted, the deadline to submit papers (10 to 15 pages) and proposals for panels is August 30th

New Media and Emerging Democracies 

In accordance to the suggestion of our hosts at the University of Sindh, this year's main theme for papers, projects, shared experiences, exhibitions and field visits will be: "New Media and Emerging Democracies." 

Few issues in contemporary world are so important and, at the same time, so difficult to tackle, as democracy. Regardless of diverse approaches to democracy in each region or context, it always means a certain lose of power and control for those who detained hegemonic power. 

The difficulty lies in the multiple meanings, representations and experiences that the very notion of "democracy" has for peoples and societies, for different cultures and periods of time. 

We suggest a basic distinction between: 

a)     Historical processes of "Democracies in consolidation", where national states are homogeneous and / or there is the hegemony of dominant groups' that have established, in time, an agenda that largely discusses and decides on issues of participatory policy. In this context, pending issues of democracy are related to identifying the necessities of segments of population that are under represented, or whose interests are ignored. The role of new media is to promote these issues and help identifying processes that will allow the implementation of a true practice of democracy and citizen participation in decision-making. 

b)    "Emerging democracies" in a multi-national state context, whether or not they are recognized nations. Democracy has different tasks, goals and challenges in societies where it is confronted with religious, ethnic, tribal and other cultural divergences of significance, and where integration is difficult, much in political terms as in daily life. In these cases, not only we find an absence of public policies capable to meet people's needs and desires, but usually there is an under representation and ignorance of the needs of vast segments of population, as well as of minorities. New Media have the responsibility of opening a difficult road, based mostly on plural dialogue, and which is non-centered and multi-vocal. A dialogue that will recognize all sorts of appeals, points of view and convergences and that will promote a space for voices that are rarely listened to and yet, are essential for the building of a plural democracy. 

c)     Democracy requires identifying the necessities and voices of the disenfranchised. In this sense, it is of great relevance to explore stories of children (girls and boys), women, workers, peasants, indigenous, and other minority members. Also, to analyze emerging ways of communication and relation that fight against marginalization and ignorance and that contribute to knowledge and to identity assertion. 

Another theme for analysis and debate in OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios9 will be the relevance of social and political processes related to the emergency of citizen's media or of new media. 

Taking these ideas in consideration, we suggest some useful themes for a gradual empowerment of different segments of population that have been, so far, oppressed, marginalized or subordinated by reason of tradition, which some societies consider natural practice. 

We think of three scenarios for dissertations and collective debates. 

1.     Industrial societies: What is happening with new media in highly consolidated Western democracies? What are the debates taking place within these contexts? What are the stakes and limits of new media in societies under extreme cybernetic control? 

2.     Democracies with opening spaces and citizen access to media: How did they manage to have a growing presence in the media? What are the social and economic processes related to their presence? To what extent new media interact with preexisting dialogic media? 

3.           Emerging democracies: What is the role of new media when access is restricted to a minority of population? What role does it play in a context of emergency democracy and political, religious and ideological confrontation? Can new media make a contribution to intercultural dialogue? What are the links of process of participatory communication with vast social movements? 

As in previous conferences, OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9 will have plenary sessions in the mornings, and panels, working groups and workshops in the afternoon. 

The range of themes to discuss in panels and working teams is very wide. These are some suggestions: 

-       Participatory citizenship in new media.

-       Role of new technologies in the building of citizenship

-       Organized grassroot movements and new media

-       Technical and social limits and advantages in new media

-       New media and the building of democracy

-       Legal frame, censorship or legitimacy of new media

-       Global and local: role of new media. 

Workshops on actual experiences may address methodological aspects, which will allow for transcending the stage of mere descriptions: 

-       Methodologies of communication and democracy building

-       Experimenting new media in contexts of confrontation

-       Role of training in the consolidation of new media 

On the last day of the conference OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9, an open debate will take place between all participants about the future of the network, the future conferences and participants' suggestions on future activities and projects. 

Participation & Logistics 

An International Committee has been established to support the organization of OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9, it includes colleagues that already participated in previous conferences. There is also a Local Committee at the University of Sindh that will be in charge of the main aspects for the event's organization. 

Members of both committees participate in seven sub-committees that are in charge of the following areas: 1) Call for Proposals and Methodology; 2) Financing and Grants; 3) Travel and Visas; 4) Press and Media; 5) Translation and Interpreters; 6) Video Screening and Field Visit; and 7) Lodging and Food. 

Proposals for panels, papers or workshops must be sent to: 

Those interested in participating in OurMedia 9 / NuestrosMedios 9, may submit a resume of their papers and / or panel proposals before July 1st.  A format for proposal submissions is available on our website. 

All information related to the conference will be posted in due time at 

(translated from Spanish by Natalia Diaz) 

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, May 24, 2010

Call for Nominations – Highway Africa New Media Awards 2010

The 14th Highway Africa Conference 2010, hosted at Rhodes University, Eastern Cape South Africa is set to host the 10th edition of the Highway Africa New Media Awards. These unique and prestigious awards within the profession of journalism on the continent reward pioneering, innovative and creative use of technology in doing journalism that serves Africa and its citizens. The Awards were pioneered to highlight the role that digital technologies play in journalism and the media.

The conference, which takes place from 5-7 July this year, calls for the submission of nominations for the annual  Highway Africa New Media Awards in 3 categories:

  • Individual/Student – awarded to individual persons who design or appropriate new affordable applications of communication technologies to overcome the limitations of existing infrastructure and/or capital resources.
  • Not-for-Profit – awarded to users of appropriate media technology to advance and assist communities and persons limited by infrastructure and/or technological access.
  •  Corporate – awarded to corporate groups for creative and appropriate adaptation of technologies within the continent to complete effectively in the wider environment.

Broad Criteria for Entries

The judges will consider the use of new media technologies to:

  • Advance press freedom on the continent;
  • Encourage social empowerment amongst marginalised communities;
  • Highlight innovative and creative applications of global technology for the benefit of the continent's overall media development.

Technical Requirements for All Entries

  1. Digital/Online platform must be functional and updated
  2. Multimedia components, print, web and post
  3. Aesthetic appeal (creative use of limited resources)
  4. Stories should have been published in the period August 2008 and July 2009
  5. Please supply details of the media in which article will have been published
  6. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entertained after the closing date and when the final announcements are made
  7. Highway Africa reserves the right not to award prizes in any category.

 Submissions are to be made electronically to: copied to

The closing date for the nominations is 18 June 2010, 16:30 Pretoria Time.

Winners will be announced at the prestigious Highway Africa New Media Awards ceremony on the evening of Tuesday, 6 July 2010, at the conference.

For more information please contact

Visit for entry forms.

NOTE:  Please note that entries for the awards are open from 24 May-18 June 2010.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

NEW STUDY: New Media, Old Media: How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from the Traditional Press

             New Media, Old Media: How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from the Traditional Press


Monday, May 24 — Stories and issues that gain momentum in social media differ markedly from those covered most by the mainstream media, according to a year-long study by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Blogs shared the same lead story with traditional media in just 13 of the 49 weeks studied; Twitter's top subject matched that of the mainstream press in only 4 of the 29 weeks. On You Tube, the top stories overlapped in 8 out of 49 weeks. 


But the three social media platforms also differed from each other. Of the 29 weeks tracked, blogs, Twitter and YouTube shared the same top story just once—the week of June 15-19, 2009, when the protests that followed the Iranian elections led on all three.


  • Bloggers gravitated toward stories that elicited emotion, concerned individual or group rights or triggered ideological passion. And unlike in other types of media, there is a pretty even mix of conservative and liberal voices.


  • On Twitter, the mission is primarily about passing along important—often breaking—information in a way that assumes shared values within the Twitter community. Technology is a major focus, but the one story that trumped all other in 2009 was the protests following the Iranian election. It was the top linked-to story seven weeks in a row.


  • YouTube users engage not through comments but through selection and sharing. Partly as a result, the most watched videos have a strong sense of serendipity. The "Hey you've got to see this," mentality rings strong.


Across all three social platforms, however, attention spans are brief. On blogs, 53% of the lead stories in a given week stay on the list no more than three days. On Twitter that is true of 72% of lead stories, and more than half (52%) are on the list for just 24 hours.


"As social media sites and tools continue to evolve, so too will the interplay among new and traditional outlets and citizens' relationship to the news," says Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.


These are some conclusions drawn from one of the first empirical assessments of the relationships between social media and the more traditional press. PEJ examined the news linked to on millions of blogs and social media pages tracked by Icerocket and Technorati from January 19, 2009, through January 15, 2010, and the videos on YouTube's news channel for the same period. Twitter was measured by tracking news stories linked to within tweets as monitored by Tweetmeme from June 15, 2009, through January 15, 2010.


Among the report's other findings:


  • Bloggers rely heavily on MSM. While social media embrace a different news agenda than the mainstream media, blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press—and primarily a few outlets—for their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four—the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post—accounted for fully 80%.


  • Twitter is less tied to traditional press. On Twitter, half (50%) of the links were to legacy outlets; 40% to web-only sources and 10% to wire or non-news outlets such as  "Green Briefs" which summarized the daily developments during the June protests in Iran.


  • YouTube offers more international mix. A quarter, 26%, of the most watched news videos were of non-U.S. events, primarily those with a strong visual appeal such as raw footage of Pope Benedict XVI getting knocked over during Mass on Christmas Eve or a clip of a veteran Brazilian news anchor getting caught insulting some janitors without realizing his microphone was still live. Celebrity and media-focused videos were also given significant prominence.


  • Politics has found a place in blogs and on YouTube. On blogs, 17% of the 5 most linked-to stories in a given week were about U.S. government or politics, often accompanied by emphatic personal analysis or evaluations. These topics were even more prevalent among news videos on YouTube, where they accounted for 21% of all top stories. On Twitter, however, technology stories were linked to far more than anything else, 43% of the top-five stories in a given week and 41% of the lead items. By contrast, technology filled 1% of the newshole in the mainstream press during the same period.


  • Mainstream Press doesn't follow new media's agenda. Social Media often hone in on stories that get less attention in the "MSM," but there is little evidence of the traditional press then picking up that story in response.  Across the entire year studied, just one story—the controversy over emails relating to global research that came to be known as "Climate-gate"became a major item in the blogosphere and then, a week later, gained more traction in traditional media.


Read the full report.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Online News Association Receives $25,000 Gannett Foundation Grant to Support Free Training

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 20, 2010) -  The Online News Association, the world's largest membership organization of digital journalists, today announced its second year of free training for digital journalists, thanks to a renewed grant from the Gannett Foundation.

The $25,000 in funding enables ONA to continue its popular Parachute Training program, which so far has helped more than 200 journalists in communities hard hit by media closures and job losses update their digital media skills.

"Gannett Foundation is pleased to continue its partnership and support of ONA and the work they are doing to improve the digital experience and skill sets of journalists," said Virgil Smith, Vice President of Talent Management and Human Resources at Gannett.

In 2009 and 2010, ONA brought its considerable resources to Ann Arbor, Mich., and Bradenton, Fla., where digital journalists from all platforms came together to learn from experts and each other. The next training is scheduled for June 5 at the University Alabama, Birmingham, in partnership with the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists.  Los Angeles is targeted for the fourth round of training.

The sessions are tailored specifically to the needs of independent, community, non-profit, displaced and employed journalists, bloggers and entrepreneurs. Trainers include leaders in their fields, covering the latest in multimedia, blogging, mobile, legal and business issues, free web tools, marketing through social networks and finding a niche on the web.

"We're delighted to get the green light to continue bringing free training directly to journalists across the country," said ONA Board President Christine Montgomery"It's one of the most important -- and rewarding -- things we do."

The Online News Association is the world's largest association of online journalists. ONA's mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers and others who produce news for the Internet or other digital delivery systems, as well as academic members and others interested in the development of online journalism. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

The Gannett Foundation is a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc. whose mission is to invest in the future of the communities in which Gannett does business, and in the future of our industry. It supports projects that take a creative approach to fundamental issues such as education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

British Library to digitise 40m of its newspaper pages

The British Library has announced a 10-year project to make 40m pages from its newspaper archive available online.

The record of over 300 years worth of journalism, including coverage of the Crimean and Boer Wars, will be put on the web by the publisher BrightSolid.

The move will spare historians having to search the current hard copy and microfilm collection.

The digital material will be made free to users at the main library site at St Pancras, north London.

A charge will be levied for searches conducted from outside the library.

The British Library's archive contains about 750m newspaper pages, including 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles.

'Rich detail'

Over 10 years the project will give internet users their first chance to search stories and articles on international events such as the Crimean and Boer wars and the Suffragette movement.

Pages written during the census years between 1841 and 1911 will also be made available online.

BrightSolid said it aims to complete the digitisation of more than 4m pages within the first two years.

" It will offer a unique insight into major events and key periods of historical interest "
Chris van der Kuyl BrightSolid chief executive

Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: "Historic newspapers are an invaluable resource for historians, researchers, genealogists, students and many others, bringing past events and people to life with great immediacy and in rich detail.

"By making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print.

"It will help the newspaper collection to remain relevant for a new generation of researchers, more used to accessing research information via their laptop than travelling to a physical location."

BrightSolid chief execuitve Chris van der Kuyl said: "Digitisation will mean that those people who haven't previously been able to access the physical resource will now be able to access it from anywhere at anytime.

"It will also offer a unique insight into major events and key periods of historical interest."

The hard copies of the pages will be moved to Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

A digital copy of the scanned material will also be archived in the library's national collection.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Saturday, May 08, 2010

UK elections leads to a Record traffic for BBC website

As post-election events continue to unfold, we've just got some preliminary figures in for traffic to the BBC News website across the whole of yesterday, Friday 7 May. So, according to the data we have in so far:

  • We had 11.4m individual users to the BBC News website on Friday - approximately - so that breaks our previous record of 9.2m (that was on 5 November 2008 for the Obama election victory)
  • There were about 30m page views for the constituency results pages
  • Over 100m page views in total
  • About 6.5m page views to the election live page
  • The search for your result by postcode peaked at about 36,000 searches per minute, and we scaled it up to cope
  • The search by name peaked at around 36,000 searches per minute too
  • So a total of around 1,200 searches for a constituency result were happening every second at peak
  • The mobile election results pages had more than 1m page views
  • Finally, and the figure is still a rough one, it looks as though there were more than 9m requests to play video over the course of the whole day.
International Institute for ICT Journalism

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Media and the Knowledge Economy in Africa

School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University

August 11-13, 2010 Conference

 The concept of the knowledge economy is more than that of an economy based on knowledge. It even goes beyond the notion of the (economic) management of knowledge and knowledge production in culture and society.  The conceptual shift resides in the re-evaluation of production value away from the traditional combination of raw materials-machinery-capital, and towards greater emphasis on human capital, its development and its contribution to the value chain.

For us in the cultural industries, the commanding role that ICT plays in the value chain demands that we focus on new media as the platform of the knowledge economy. In real terms, media are not merely channels of communication, not mere tools, but prime assets in the (re)production of knowledge. Thus they raise questions of skill-sets, competence even of skilled producers and the future direction of African economies and polities.

Against this background, this conference will address the place of new media and ICT in general in the production and reproduction of knowledge in Africa. How well are the universities and training institutions in Africa leveraging on the new media in knowledge production? What is the state of library and information systems in our institutions in this regard?  What are the policy options being pursued or implementation strategies adopted by national governments to push forward the empowerment of citizens through the new media platforms? How do the new media advance democracy in Africa? What impacts do the new media have on industrial production, service delivery and workflow practices?

It is expected that at the 2010 conference, the publication of select papers from the 2009 conference (Journalism and New Media Technologies in Africa) will be launched. In 2010 the sub-themes have been organized along the lines below. The themes are provided only as suggestions. Scholars, industry experts and practitioners, policy makers and others may organize themes other than those listed. However, extra topics must be hinged on the central theme of the conference.

Conference Sub-themes:                                                                                    

a)     Theoretical and conceptual issues on new media and knowledge economy

·        Definitions

·        Theories

·        Methodologies

·        Research paradigms and traditions


b)    Culture and the (re)production of knowledge in Africa

·        Endogenous/indigenous knowledge systems

·        New media and archiving of cultural knowledge

·        Cultural interfaces and dissonances in knowledge production

·        Knowledge production in central and peripheral societies


      c)  Citizen empowerment and new media

·        E-Governance and democracy: framework for social and economic empowerment

·        Political and public communications and the new media

·        New media and public policy in Africa

·        Social media, social enterprises  and social critiques in the new media

·        ICT  and professionalism in public service delivery


     d) Business and economic practices

·        Market economies and moral economies in the  new media age

·        Marketing communications and the new media

·        Business and financial intelligence in new media contexts

·        Research and development in the ICT age

·        Intellectual property issues in the new media

·        Virtual business communities


(e) Tools and technologies in the knowledge economy: Educational networks, virtual universities

·        Infrastructure of knowledge production: Research and the new media

·        Education and e-competence: Preparing employable youths

·        Library and information services in Africa today

·        On virtual universities in Africa


Conference convener: Prof. E. A. Biakolo


                                  School of Media and Communication            

                                  Pan-African University


Online Media Growing Big, Powerful And Messy - US Official

Harare, May 5, 2010 - Online media is growing big, powerful and messy, said US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Bruce Wharton
In his message to mark World Press Freedom Day, which was celebrated on Monday, Wharton said:" "Online journalism is big, it's growing fast, growing in power, it's messy and it looks a whole lot to me like real participatory democracy," said Wharton.

Wharton who has extensive US government's experience working with online media, said the 2009 prison census done by the Center for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) found that at least 68 bloggers, Web-based reporters, and online editors were under arrest worldwide. He said this constituted about half of all journalists now in jail.

"The experience of the past shows that government controlled media can exist, and compete, with independent media in the daily newspaper market," said U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray,  in a message to also mark World Press Freedom Day.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated across the globe every May 3rd, representing an opportunity to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The event in Harare was supported by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section and co-hosted by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA- Zimbabwe) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Over 120 individuals attended the commemoration, representing civil society organizations, the international and diplomatic community and journalists.

"In the 21st century, the free flow of information and ideas within countries and across international borders can be a powerful force for understanding and positive change," said Ambassador Ray.

The U.S. Ambassador pledged his country's commitment to promoting media freedom "through… diplomatic efforts and…exchange and assistance programmes, working in partnership with non-governmental organisations."

Jameson Timba, Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Publicity, said the journey towards press freedom in Zimbabwe had been "slow, arduous, painful and frustrating both physically and mentally." He noted that the delay in setting up media regulatory bodies is inexcusable and called on the Zimbabwe Media Commission to exercise its functions independently.

"We have committed ourselves as government to replace AIPPA with two media bills- the Media Practitioners Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill," said Timba.

Veteran journalists Andrew Moyse and William Saidi described Zimbabwe's press freedom record as turbulent and called for the reform of media laws restricting the free flow of information.

"Any reform to AIPPA (the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) has been made all the more difficult because it has been drafted into constitutional amendment no. 19. This means it cannot be changed without a constitutional amendment," said Moyse, who is coordinator at MMPZ.

Saidi, who is also MISA Zimbabwe's Writer in Residence Fellow, chronicled his experience as a journalist since the 1950s, including visits to the United States, and said the first duty of journalism is telling the truth.

"You may be bashed and so on, but as long as you know that you are vehicles of change, you should be satisfied," concluded Saidi. He emphasized the media's role in exposing scandals, citing the Watergate scandal in the U.S. and the Willowgate scandal in Zimbabwe as examples.

In line with UNESCO's theme, the World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Harare focused on the importance of freedom of information as an integral part of freedom of expression and as a contributor to democratic governance.

MMPZ showcased an exhibition featuring newspapers and radio stations in five Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries- South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. A quiz show on the media environment, ethics and personalities was won by Jennifer Dube, a reporter with the Standard newspaper.