Politics & General News

Publishers shortchanging journalists

*I BELIEVE that the media sector in Zimbabwe is one of the most exploitative industries in the country.*

In fact, it does not start and end within the borders of the country itself but tragically extends to our kin in the diaspora.

This was made so clear when a certain publication recently approached me, requesting that I write exclusively for them. 

Naturally, I assumed that they were offering some financial reward in return – since writing exclusively requires not only expending time, energy, and resources on just a single publication but also limits the work’s exposure. 

So I asked them how much they were willing to pay me.

The response I received was staggering!

The editor said that he was hoping for me to write for free since the publication would be giving me publicity.


I did not know whether to be angry, or feel offended, or laugh.

Granted, some good publicity is a most welcome opportunity for most writers, particularly when starting off their careers. 

Is that not how we become known as our work reach many places and people that we could have never imagined?

In fact, had it not been for amazing people as Wilf Mbanga of The Zimbabwean newspaper who began publishing my articles when virtually no one knew of me, I would most likely not have the recognition I enjoy today. 

We all need such people who give us the platform to shine and show what we can do.

I will always be eternally grateful and indebted to Mbanga. 

However, as our profile grows and impact intensifies, there is never a shortage of those who simply want to take advantage of us as writers. 

They know very well that our huge following will benefit their publications through increased readership and the subsequent revenue.

Yet they still want to have their cake and eat it too by publishing our works for no payment to us. 

This is done under the pretext of them somehow ‘doing us a favor’  by providing us ‘free publicity’ – whilst at the back of their minds fully aware that they are the ones reaping all the rewards.

It is so unfortunate – especially when done by our own compatriots. 

One would have assumed that our own brethren would be at the forefront of supporting fellow writers, particularly financially, as opposed to exploiting us. 

It is more painful when we are treated much better by foreigners who express their appreciation by paying something for our hard work.

Foreign television news channels even pay for appearing on an exclusive interview or panel discussion.

They at least acknowledge that our work derives them revenue through increased readership or viewership  – on account of the good product we would have provided.

Nonetheless, since most of our writings are on Zimbabwean issues, it is not every day that one gets an offer from a foreign publication. 

We then have to rely heavily on our local publishers. 

However, they are the ones who want to make us believe that they are actually doing us a huge favor by featuring our work in their newspapers. 

Is this who we have become as Zimbabweans?

Always wanting to take advantage of our fellow compatriots by exploiting them?

Why do we not learn from other countries?

The reason writers in other countries are highly respected and doing financially well is that they are rewarded handsomely for their work.

They are appreciated!

Surely, if one is gifted in something, should they not reap the rewards more so financially?

Our publishers need to look themselves in the mirror and ask tough questions.

Are they being fair to those contributing to their publications?

Are we not the ones actually driving their newspapers and attracting readers – resulting in increased revenue?

So, is the natural thing not to also share in this revenue?

It is the most ubuntu (humane) thing to do!

*_● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/_*

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