By Nkosana Dlamini
Veteran journalist and media trainer Chris Chinaka has lamented the emergence of opportunistic media practitioners with no regard for ethics but hailed the growing uptake of investigative journalism among mainstream journalists as a welcome initiative that would help the profession restore its credibility.
He was giving remarks at the recent launch of the Investigative Journalism Fund in Harare by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe in which he is the Vice Chairperson.
The Investigative Journalism fund set to run over a four-year period is sponsored by Internews.
Chinaka, a stickler for accurate reporting who also runs ZimFact – an independent online fact-checking platform – said investigative journalism was a breath of fresh air to the profession that has seen the proliferation of media platforms churning out fake news.
“Investigative journalism is emerging globally as one of the forms of journalism that those of us in the profession are using to reconnect with the public which has lost confidence and sometimes trust in the media because of the activities of many other people in the media space, the people that we call pedestrian media activists who have no responsibility on either verifying or fact checking their stories or their tales, which does not apply to those of us who are in professional journalism.
“So, this is an opportunity that we should take public trust in the media but also to vindicate media that it has an interest in public interest issues; that we are out there to investigate for transparency, for accountability, issues that connect with people on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
The advent of the internet has allowed persons with no journalism training to invade the media space often with half-baked products, in the process soiling the image of the profession.
Established publications keen to keep up with competition have been forced to dump in-depth news reporting to try and chase the common story.
Mainstream media have often cited lack of both human and material resources to embark on investigative journalism which often takes time to produce.
The VMCZ administered fund will sponsor individual journalists within the different publications investigate and produce finance related scandals at no cost to their cash-strapped employers.
Under the fund, selected journalists will receive a maximum US$600 to help them meet the costs associated with story production.