By Brandon Josphat
THE European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) has become the latest organisation to vouch for the balanced reportage of the Daily News, the Daily News On Sunday and 3Ktv.
In doing so, the EU EOM joins many other significant institutions and individuals who have recently given the thumbs up to the truthful, impartial and impactful journalism of news brands under the Jester Media Services (JMS) group — the fastest-growing and most influential media house in the country.
In addition to owning 3Ktv directly, as well as a plethora of other lesser known media assets, JMS is the parent company of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) and Modus Media — which respectively publish the iconic Daily News and Daily News On Sunday, and the country’s number one business publication, The Financial Gazette.
In its final report on the August 23 harmonised elections that was released on Friday, the EU EOM variously described the reportage of the Daily News, the Daily News On Sunday and 3Ktv on the recent polls as “egalitarian” and “neutral” — unlike competitor offerings which were found to have taken clear partisan positions.
“ANZ group owned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday were balanced in their political and electionrelated coverage. “They gave nearly equal space to the leading contestants, and coverage included both praise and criticism across the board, facilitating readers access to varied views about the political realities of the country,” EU EOM noted.
“3Ktv channel devoted limited airtime to political and electoral topics, accounting for six percent of the relevant television broadcasts analysed by the mission. “Coverage of Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa was predominantly positive, whilst other political actors were covered more neutrally. CCC received more praise than criticism on 3Ktv, but most of the coverage of the main opposition party was neutral.
“The channel provided airtime to civil society organisations and independent analysts, expanding the views and opinions available to the electorate,” EU EOM added.
Commenting on the EU EOM’s observations, JMS Group Editor-in-Chief, Guthrie Munyuki, said he was “delighted to see yet another notable organisation affirming our journalism” — adding that the results of this approach were apparent in the commercial sustainability of the group. “It’s heartening to note that many people and organisations appreciate that we continue to tell the Zimbabwean story like it is.
“This is very important because in a highly-polarised and politics obsessed society such as ours, facts and truth are almost always the first casualty. “As a result, for many of our peers what is right and wrong, and true or false, depends entirely on who this helps or hurts, or what they get out of the situation — all to the detriment of the country. We always stick to the facts,” Munyuki said.
“We do this because we care a great deal about our industry and our country, especially taking into account the media sector’s critical role in the life of Zimbabwe’s developmental quests. “In this light, we firmly believe that our nascent democracy can only thrive if the media are free, tell it like it is as we always do, and also respect the key principles of journalism.
“After all, what watchdog or developmental role can an incompetent, lying, compromised or foolishly partisan media play in the life of a nation such as ours?” Munyuki added. Ahead of the August 23 national elections, leading academic, Alexander Rusero, observed that the Daily News was the most reliable and balanced media outlet in the country.
“Media observation on Zim 2023 Elections thus far; the Daily News is currently the most reliable, fair, balanced and objective newspaper for elections-related news — there are no traits of commissariat journalism. Kudos to Guthrie Munyuki and Team,” he wrote on social media.
Last year, a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) committee also singled out the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday for special praise, for their fair and balanced political reportage. While the committee was chaired by Zec, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) were also key partners in its work.
“The committee applauds media under the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) stable (the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday) that continue to inform and educate the Zimbabwean voting public about electoral processes and political contestations without bias,” it said unambiguously. Commenting on this then, Munyuki thanked all the papers’ key stakeholders for their continued support of credible journalism in the country.
“All our work is firmly rooted in the tradition of ‘telling it like it is, without fear or favour’. It’s no wonder, therefore, that all our media offerings have become influential and indispensable lodestars on the local socio-political and economic landscapes.
“Indeed, our products are loved and followed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country and in the diaspora every single day of the week for their independence, balance and contribution to national debates and democratic discourse.
“I congratulate and challenge all my colleagues across the group, who form the cream of content talent in the country to escalate their excellent work which is increasingly being recognised by many people,” Munyuki said.
“The continuing success of the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday is even more remarkable when one factors in their violent and unjust closure in September 2003. “When we re-launched our operations in 2011, very few people gave us a chance then, with many of the late former president Robert Mugabe’s minions — who had presided over that closure for eight long years — sure that we would never be a news force again.
Boy, were they wrong! “A decade later, we are not just still here, but thriving — both editorially and commercially, and achieving all this without donor funding or lucre from politically exposed persons — to the disbelief of our few remaining detractors,” Munyuki added.