We are still in the Information Age, where computers and the internet play a vital role in daily life, business and governance.
This ease with which information travels has had some incredible results, not least that Techzim exists. If it weren’t for the internet and how it brought down barriers to setting up a media house, we would not be having this discussion.
So, we get to geek out on some niche tech and business stuff and some other small online publications get to create their own communities. Gatekeepers, where is your sting now?
On paper, that’s all well and good that we are talking about lower barriers to entry but barriers still exist.
We can see this when we look at hyperlocal news outlets. There are still so many locations and niche interests that are underserved and yet there are many passionate creators.
These independent media houses are hampered by limited resources, economic instability, and government pressure, among other things.
Innovate360 decided to do something about that.
Training Local News Entrepreneurs to Build Sustainable Outlets
Innovate360 says traditional journalism models are no longer sustainable in Zimbabwe.
Therefore, there is a need for journalists to develop entrepreneurial skills to build and run their own media businesses. I don’t think you can argue with that.
So, they launched an entrepreneurial journalism program for Zimbabwean media creators. At least that’s who they targeted at first, they expanded to include Zambia and Namibia in the second edition.
The program will provide training and mentorship in areas such as business development, financial management, content marketing, and audience engagement.
The program will prioritise serving underserved communities and “marginalised” voices that are often neglected by mainstream media.
Innovate360 points to The Besana Mail, a new media outlet serving the Hwange community, as an example of success from its inaugural program.
The inaugural edition of the program took place in 2022, and the insights gained from that initial experience have been incorporated into the 2024 iteration, which commenced last week.
Here is how it works:
- Training: Journalists receive training in crucial areas like audience insights, business model development, product development, and leadership skills. This training will be provided by various people from all over the world.
- Support: The program offers mentorship and guidance to help journalists implement their learnings and overcome practical challenges.
- Collaboration: Innovate360 fosters a collaborative environment where participants can share best practices, learn from each other’s experiences, and build valuable networks.
Journalists work on capstone projects that directly address specific challenges faced by their newsrooms. This hands-on approach allows them to apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge to real-world scenarios.
See, that right there is the main change from the inaugural program, Innovate360 now works with the media houses and not just the journalists.
They learnt that if there is no buy-in from the media house, the journalists would struggle to put their ideas into practice and also that should the journalist leave their post, as some did, going to unrelated fields, that meant all that work for nothing.
However, if the media house is involved, even if a particular journalist leaves, they can still help get some ideas off the ground at the media house.
What does Innovate360 aim to achieve?
They want to strengthen local news outlets by equipping journalists with the necessary skills and resources. In the same vein, the program seeks to make local news outlets more financially viable and operationally efficient.
I love that but even more, I love the idea of supporting a wider range of local news outlets. Who doesn’t want to see a more diverse and vibrant media landscape?
Innovate360 itself gets funding from the United States Embassy in Zimbabwe.