Hildegarde The Arena
APART from satisfying readers’ information demands, one aspect that made my job very exciting in yesteryears was the book selection process, what we technically called collection development.
So important was the task that if you were responsible for collection development, not only were you expected to spend the few tax dollars wisely, but the outcome was supposed to be equally satisfying.
You were expected to come up with a quality collection — a collection that would satisfy the information needs of a diverse group of users for a long time.
Thus we selected carefully, “weighing against need, need against resources, resources for new materials against need to maintain old materials.”
Ordering and/or buying the materials was equally rigorous. You would not buy a book just because its cover design was good, nor could you spend taxpayers’ money on books with “sexy” titles when the contents were trash. You could not buy a book just because it was written by a renowned author. The expert reviews were the best guides.
The same applied to newspapers and other journals, although newspaper subscription then was not a big deal because the titles collected by every library were from the Zimpapers stable since it was the only one on the market.
When new titles came on board, from ANZ (Daily News), AMH (Zimbabwe Independent and others), SAPPHO (Zimbabwe Mirror and others), you did not rush to subscribe because they had to satisfy the rigorous demands set out under the library’s collection development policy.
The Internet has made everything different, but that does not mean we are now a paperless society.
This writer is pointing out some of these fundamentals because it is untenable that a daily newspaper should day-in, day-out run more or less the same lead story and picture.
We understand the amount of pressure that the media has put on former Vice President Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, pressure to “come out of the closet” and challenge Zanu-PF and President Mugabe in particular, but if some of these newspapers realised that they were business entities, they would see the amount of disservice they are doing to their readers.
The collection development concept came into this writer’s mind because in as much as Dr Mujuru is a public figure and story material, was it necessary for NewsDay to make it look like their daily issues were weekly issues?
I asked myself whether I would part with the organisation’s money if a whole row of newspapers has somewhat similar headlines and pictures.
Of course, Mujuru is not the first one. President Mugabe, the First Lady, VP Emmerson Mnangagwa have also been treated like they were a single story that could be told ad nauseum. The very media houses that complain about bread and butter issues cannot have page 1 stories that indicate their seriousness about the issue, instead of the personality cultic syndrome they display?
Before the Mujuru, Mujuru and Mujuru ship started sailing, it was VP Mnangagwa. On September 4 NewsDay had, “Mnangagwa offside: Msipa”; and on September 7 it was “Moyo dares Mnangagwa.”
From September 8 to 14 it was the Mujuru sideshow: “Mujuru unveils party manifesto . . . party launch soon”; “Mujuru rattles Zanu-PF”; “Mujuru, Tsvangirai plot coalition”; “Tsvangirai sings Mujuru praises”; and, “’Zanu-PF chefs ready to jump ship’”.
Do they have to flog the horse until they are sure that it is dead? She is getting this monumental publicity without her calling a press conference and being seen in public like her predecessors that challenged Zanu-PF. At what cost?
If it is agenda setting, is this a plus for Dr Mujuru and her Zanu-PF expelled colleagues, or is it agenda setting in reverse while the British and Americans identify a suitable candidate whom they think can take on Zanu-PF in 2018?
Does she see the bigger picture or she feels pampered with this Mujuru first and not People First?
Dr Mujuru complained against the reportage she was getting from the public media, and we started seeing her taking her statements to the private media. Now they are having a party on her. The naked abuse is there for everyone to see and a revolutionary cadre should not allow that just because she has issues with Zanu-PF despite having sworn at some point that she would die in Zanu-PF.
This writer wondered how she would have reacted if the story ‘Zanu-PF chefs ready to jump ship’) had appeared on the front page of The Herald newspaper.
NewsDay reported on September 14, “Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First (PF) political movement has sensationally claimed several disgruntled top Zanu-PF officials have indicated they were ready to jump ship and join her as soon as her movement transforms into a fully-fledged party.
“PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo and former national war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda made the claims in separate interviews with NewsDay at the weekend. ‘True, there are a lot of zanu-PF members who are not happy there because they are continuously intimidated, harassed, humiliated and being called names like Gamatox,’ Gumbo said.
“While they claim to be supporting Mugabe by day, they are betraying him by supporting opposition to his rule by night . . .”
Dr Simba Makoni before her made similar claims, but when crunch time came, there were no Zanu-PF bigwigs to join him. He killed his own ambition before our very eyes.
When Margaret Dongo and her ZUD project saw that Zanu-PF cadres, Dr Mujuru included, could not entertain her wild dreams, she resorted to name calling.
And it is an open secret that Edgar Tekere was not followed by his compatriots in Zanu-PF.
However, when a newspaper lead story writes that Mujuru’s outfit, “sensationally claimed,” you do not have to be an Albert Einstein to realise that the party is just beginning for the People First guys. Maybe they are readying themselves by keeping away from the people they claim come first.
Only time will tell because a serious politician who wants to take on equally serious fighters would not be described as “sensationally claiming.” That is laughable. Soon we will probably hear that they were “sensationally claiming” to BUILD the People First project.
Soon and very soon, the fairytale relationship will come to an end, and so too this idea that readers can be taken for granted forever.