Mass media a critical component in national development

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EDITOR — Whether in a democracy, monarchy or knowledge-based autocracy, the mass media is a critical component for national transformation and development.

The role of the media is mainly to inform, educate and to entertain.
The mass media sets the “national agenda”. For example it determines what the majority and general populace will be discussing about at any given point in time e.g. in bars, houses, schools, bottle stores, churches etc.

The mass media is the channel through which rulers and opposition political parties can quickly communicate with the population or the masses.

It cannot be disputed that the mass media collectively and directly influences voting patterns and therefore has a critical role in national development. It determines the quantity by geographical spread that each political party gets.

The mass media has the highest reach compared with other types of media like flyers, posters and billboards. The mass media includes television stations, mainstream national newspapers and radio.

So powerful is the mass media that some textbooks describe mass media experts/reporters as “technicians of power”. Other textbooks describe media personnel as, “celebrity making experts”. They have the power to convert a president into a street kid or a street kid into a president. Such is the power of the mass media.

Collectively, the mass media in Zimbabwe is credited for having contributed to the demise of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

A profession in the mass media is a very prestigious and the envy of many. In the United States of America, lawyers, media personnel and soldiers are the ones that dominate American leadership politics. Even Donald Trump was a television personality!

Any government remains in power at the courtesy of the media or “paparazzi”.
Even opposition parties are at the mercy of the mass media if they are to get into power.

Apart from the three arms of government ― the executive, the judiciary and legislature ―the mass media is beginning to be recognised as the fourth and most important arm of government.

The billion-dollar celebrity industry is a product of mass media experts.
Influential people such as music celebrities (e.g. Jah Prayzah), religious celebrities (e.g. Emmanuel Makandiwa and Walter Magaya), academic celebrities (e.g. Professor Arthur Mutambara), political celebrities (e.g. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa), football celebrities (e.g. Peter Ndlovu) only become so, courtesy of the mass media industry.

The media industry’s personnel like radio announcers, TV presenters, newspaper editors are automatic celebrities by virtue of their job and hence such jobs are in great demand.

In my view, the two top prestigious jobs in any country are jobs in the mass media and in the aviation industry.
In democracies the mass media is the bloodstream for national development. The mass media installs and removes governments depending on publicity policies of the mainstream media.

Without good relations with the mass media, a government cannot remain in power or get into power. It is impossible to be a celebrity without the assistance of the mainstream mass media.

For a political party to win or for a person to become a celebrity there are some conditions to be met:
You have to be known by all citizens, which is impossible without the mass media ― this is where the mass media is critical

You have to be liked by all or most potential voters. This depends on how you are positioned in the political market with the mass media. publicity content has to have convincing and persuasive power.
The media can destroy or build Zimbabwe.

We are urging the government to ensure that State and private mass media personnel are well remunerated by creating conditions that promote the well being of these experts.

This will ensure that Zimbabweans get quality products from the mass media industry in terms of content and timing.

We are also, as the New Patriotic Front, opening warm arms to and in welcoming the media industry experts! As a party, our moto is “Innovation, Progress, Prosperity”. If we innovate we make progress and which progress will ultimately lead to prosperity.

Tendayi Munyanduri

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