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Keeping Local News Alive in Times of Crises

We continue to be in service to the underserved communities who need news and information. Graphics by The Citizen Bulletin

BY DIVINE DUBE, CEO & PUBLISHER | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | JULY 28, 2022

Through trying times, The Citizen Bulletin has kept its important work alive, in service to underserved communities who need news and information to make informed decisions about their lives and communities.

BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — Last month we took a voluntary sabbatical from publishing our weekly e-paper, The Bulletin. We’ve been doing this since 2021 to dedicate more time towards our fundraising efforts to keep our important work alive. And now we’re back!

But why are we persistent in our pursuit to keep local news alive?

The Citizen Bulletin is a unique news organization. Nearly all our stories are longform features that center ordinary citizens. For many local newsrooms this is a once-off beat. And we also have a clear mission: We seek through our unique journalism to spur real-community change, and we judge our own success by how often and to what extent we achieve this objective.

But here is an irony: while we’re good at telling stories about others, we rarely tell ours with the same vigor and zest we exhibit in our reporting. While we’re proud of the work we do, rarely do we write about how daring this mission is. In Zimbabwe, while local journalism is increasingly becoming important more than before, the support it has is dwindling each day.

And these are unusual times. While journalism in many parts of the world is battling debilitating financial pressures, in Zimbabwe, things are even worse: inflation is skyrocketing and local populations, from whom we must get the much needed support we desperately need, survive on less than a dollar per day, and can hardly afford to buy a packet of paracetamol tablets when they fall ill.

And COVID-19 made it even worse: A once-in-a-century pandemic and a once-in-a-century economic collapse all played out at the same time before our eyes. Yet here we are, trying to keep local journalism, one of the most battered sectors in the country, alive, during these trying times.

Sometimes our reporters and editors go for months without pay. Sometimes they travel to get the essential story, risking their lives, on empty tummies. Yet, through it all, they’ve sought credible news to keep our communities informed at a time when news itself as a public good is losing relevance each day.

Through it all, The Citizen Bulletin has been the most credible source and resource for the greater region of Matabeleland, providing relevant, reliable reporting on some of the most undercovered beats including public health, climate change and education.

Education is amongst the most undercovered beats in Matabelaland. Image by Unsplash

That’s what we launched in 2017 to do. And that’s what we’re still doing today — only with more drive, ambition and motivation. And that’s why we are back to forge ahead with our important work — serving communities.

If you’re reading this editorial, you’re our supporter. You make all this possible — whether you count yourself among readers who affirmed the power of our mission in the last half of the year; attend our events, either in person or online; amplify and vouch for our work on various platforms; or avail yourselves to our reporters whenever they need comments on stories they are doing; please know you’re in our thoughts at all times. We would not — and could not — have done it without you, and going forward we won’t — and can’t — do it without you. We are so honored to do this work. -  @village_scribe