By Natasha Musonza
Her Zimbabwe has entered into formal partnerships with relevant departments from tertiary institutions under the Mobile Community Zimbabwe project to offer mobile storytelling training.
The institutions are Midlands State University (MSU) and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Students studying media or going in the career trajectory of journalism and mass communications were selected to participate in the MCZ project.
The rapidly evolving media and technological terrain coupled with limited facilities for technical training in tertiary learning institutions, has meant that increasingly media houses experience difficulties in finding graduates with the required digital skills and experience.
Part of addressing this lies in promoting greater linkages between tertiary institutions and industry in order to increase students’ practical skills.
Thirty students were trained in May and June under the pilot phase and these will undergo a three month mentorship period where they are expected to produce 12 stories apiece in different mediums such as pictures, video and podcasts.
This is a first of such a partnership in Zimbabwe, and it would be interesting to see how this will impact the careers of the participants. It has increasingly become clear that it is no longer sufficient to be a journalist who just writes. Being a well-rounded professional with multiple journalism skills creates more options and opportunities for emerging professionals.
The journey began in 2013, with support from Free Press Unlimited (FPU) when 46 citizen journalists were equipped with skills to tell the alternative Zimbabwean story using mobile telephone technologies, using the mobile application StoryMaker.
StoryMaker is a free open source software designed by Small World News, a US based company to enable a user to record and assemble audio, picture and video content into finished formats using an android device.
Throughout the project period, it has been heartening to see how the MCZ network of citizen reporters and independent bloggers is actively providing coverage of news and events taking place in different parts of the country.
With the trending hashtag #MCZinaction, a lot of their stories are shared on social networks Facebook and Twitter and are aggregated on the project website.
This is not only providing an outlet for alternative news, but also raising the professional profile of each contributor.
Natasha is an information activist and communication strategist passionate about human rights and social justice. She blogs at Stashsays.wordpress.com