Zimbabwe’s leading independent media house, Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), yesterday announced a seven-member editorial board comprising leading policy-makers, lawyers and corporate leaders to enforce professionalism and safeguard the company’s titles against manipulation by shareholders, advertisers and politicians.
BY Staff Reporter
AMH are the publishers of flagship titles − NewsDay, the country’s leading daily newspaper and weeklies Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard.
The media house becomes the only local organisation to have an editorial board and ombudsman to ensure the editorial independence of all AMH publications and to serve the interests of Zimbabweans without any fear of upsetting advertisers and other interest groups.
AMH chairman Trevor Ncube said the editorial board members consist of the most ethical, patriotic and public-spirited Zimbabweans eager to protect the “only currency that we have – that is our integrity, AMH Pledge and Editorial Board charter.”
“Our esteemed editorial board members will be involved in shaping editorial direction through safe-guarding the interests of our readers. This is to send a very clear signal that we serve the public and not the narrow commercial interests. This board is out to protect the editorial content from the shareholders who might want to serve their agenda,” Ncube said at the board’s inaugural meeting in Harare yesterday.
The board, which is headed by renowned lawyer and businessman Muchadeyi Masunda, is by far the most resourced editorial board in the country’s media history.
Masunda is widely considered as one of Africa’s leading experts on legal and corporate governance issues. The appointment of the editorial board comes after AMH broke new ground a few years ago by appointing an ombudsman to mediate and serve as the readers’ first port of call in the event of complaints arising from published stories.
The other members drawn from various sectors with vast experience in their line of trade include Standards Association of Zimbabwe boss, Eve Gadzikwa, Liberty Bhebhe, retired High Court judge, Justice Moses Chinhengo (ombudsman) and renowned anaesthesiologist Angelina Hatendi. Two other members will be announced soon.
Masunda said the board’s main task was to uphold professionalism, credible reportage as well as the editorial independence of all AMH titles.
“We would want to see the AMH publications having balanced, accurate, well-researched stories that would make the AMH brand as a credible source of information. The editorial board will give the editorial staff the comfort that they need as long as they stick to the rule of professional journalism. The editorial board is there to remove any interference from the shareholders that would happen,” Masunda said.
“The editorial board is there in a way to protect the interests of all the stakeholders starting with shareholders, the directors, management, and editorial staff. Also the people who consume these AMH products must have comfort in that members of the editorial board have vast experience.”
The board members, according to Masunda, will also be expected to use their business contacts and networks to organise training programmes for the group’s journalists.
Ncube added the appointment of the editorial committee was an indication of how serious the group was in promoting good journalism as well as to ensure its products were free from outside influence.
“The AMH main board decided that it’s important that we send a clear signal that the shareholders of AMH do not influence our editorial, so this is a way of giving the public that confidence,” Ncube.
He said the AMH board would offer the editorial board the necessary support required to improve the quality of the company’s products.
“In putting this esteemed group of people we are sending a message that we are a cut above the rest. We want every Zimbabwean to trust our product. We want every Zimbabwean to say it is true because I read it in the AMH newspaper because they know that it is not about the shareholder it is about a group of men and women in the newsroom who have an editorial charter, who are answerable to men and women of esteem,” Ncube said.
He said he was committed to creating a reputable media house, adding that his personal views expressed on social media platforms were divorced from the newspaper company’s editorial stance.
“The appointment of the AMH editorial board, which has high-profile and top-notch professionals, is a critical and reassuring development for us as we deeply value ethical, quality and insightful journalism,” AMH chief-content-officer Dumisani Muleya said.
Muleya, who is also Zimbabwe Independent editor, added: “Due to many factors, including disruptions by the digital revolution, falling circulation and advertising revenues, poor training of journalists, rising commercial interests, shrinking newsrooms, and corruption, the media is now faced with serious challenges which have led to credibility and integrity erosion. Given all this, the editorial board will come in handy in helping us confront these issues head-on, especially regarding quality control, scrutiny and accountability.”