Unsurprisingly, newspaper readership in Zimbabwe keeps declining

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It’s not surprising really. The writing appeared on the wall years ago. And the translation handed down just as far back. While physical newspapers will not die anytime soon, the consumer of news is moving on. To the internet.

Today, local daily newspapers The Herald and The Daily News published the results of the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (Zamps) for the July to September period. Just part of September we guess. The results mainly show that newspaper readership continues to decline in Zimbabwe. Like it is in other African markets that have similar literacy rates and general technology penetration.

Newspaper readership in the quarter declined to 59%. This is a decline from 64% recorded last year for the same quarter. Even though the newspapers today carry positive angle titles to the reports, it’s not hard to see the facts.

Again unsurprisingly, the Herald article says their internet version’s readership is on the rise, increasing from 1% readership to 3%. Thankfully, the Herald Editor, Innocent Gore, can see the cause and in a comment about the survey results called for “innovativeness and continuous improvement in the packaging and presentation of news.” We hope the other newspapers are waking up to this reality as well.

We noticed a weird statement in the Herald report; “At least 1 053 805 people now have access to Internet.” The statement just stood there on its own and we have no idea what it means. We haven’t gotten our hands on the survey report just yet so you can imagine. Is this the general number of people that use the internet? If it is, then it’s definitely very incorrect. Zimbabwe should have at least 3 million people that have access to the internet currently.

Econet, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile telecoms company (and the country’s largest internet provider), estimated Zimbabwe’s mobile broadband penetration at 22% this time last year (slide 14). Out of an estimate total population of 12.5m people, that’s about 2.7 million people that were connected to the internet more than a year ago. And remember, this is just mobile broadband; they left out those that use PCs.

It’s not the first time, by the way, that these Zamps survey results have been questionable.

According to the Herald, Research Bureau International carried out the Zamps survey on behalf of the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation (ZARF). ZARF itself is comprised of representatives from the media and advertising industries. It was set up to find out the number of people that consume the different media products on the market. The research is funded by a 1.5% surcharge on all advertising.



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11 Comments

  1. Sir Nigel

    As someone who sells newspapers on a daily basis, I find that the ‘real’ issue isn’t the threat of the internet although that will come eventually.The main issue is pricing – the liquidity crisis and the general economic challenges currently being experienced in Zim are forcing people to prioritise. $1 to buy a newspaper is STILL a lot of money for someone earning less than $500/month.That is the reality

    Reply
    1. L.S.M. Kabweza

      The readership drop from 64% to 59% this year can be explained by people affording less and less?
      If the inflation figures are correct, the purchasing power of people’s money should firming and not eroding and they should therefore ‘loosely’ afford more. http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-business-sc-economy-byo-20211-article-Zimbabwe+inflation+slows+to+3.63+percent+in+August.html
      Not saying the papers are not expensive. just saying this significant decline in readership year on year is much more than just price. These guys used to sell more papers a day at this same price.

      Reply
      1. Nqaba Matshazi

        Prices still went up, but slower than they did last year, meaning buying power was slightly eroded, it did not firm. I am not so sure internet has contributed to a “decline” in newspapers, the real question lies with the Zamps survey. It will be good to look at their questionnaire and methodology because the figures they are putting out there really don’t make sense at times. And how do we have a quarterly survey when the quarter is not yet over? Doesn’t that compromise the validity of the survey? I think more questions should be asked of Zamps before we make our own conclusions

        Reply
  2. Pindile Mhandu

    “At least 1 053 805 people now have access to Internet.” maybe 1 053 805 is a secret code. In regular writing an author could say “At least 1 000 000 people now have access to Internet.” A more specific figure like 1 053 805 to me means there was a proper addition somewhere and is not an estimate as prefixed with AT LEAST. According to who Herald, be clear! “At least 1 000 people now have access to Internet.”

    Reply

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