ANIC is looking for ideas that will transform the way that African media work. This means that your idea should offer significant and tangible improvements to existing tools or techniques, or should propose new ways for African journalists to gather news, tell stories, engage with audiences, or sustain media organisations.
Ideas that have the potential to be replicated or that could scale continentally will have an advantage.
Use mobile technology and citizen activists to spark uncensored conversations in Zimbabwe about governance, corruption, political violence and community needs.
To our knowledge, our proposed deployment is a unique amalgamation of established tools and approaches. We are putting them together in a simpler, easier to set up and replicate fashion.
In Zimbabwe, and much of Africa, media access is not free, nor a two-way discussion. We want to open real dialogues with people about holding their leaders accountable, election violence, and good governance.. We publicize these conversations using our newspaper and website as a platform for public dialogue.
We will set up a community hotline hub and spoke system. We know there is great demand in the communities – when we distribute papers, people mob the truck and beg for copies. We will equip community activists sourced from local youth and electoral NGOs with training and prepaid mobile phones. They will become our point people for news on the ground in communities where we have no journalists. Citizens can call our hotline and leave messages asking about governance, elections, complaints and corruption, amongst other community needs. Our journalists will research the questions and call back our point people with answers. One day a week, we will host a live Q&A hotline, where citizens can speak directly with our journalists, as well as potentially via conference call with each other in separate communities. People will be providing information on the ground that The Zimbabwean will use in the paper, distributed both in physical and online formats. In exchange, citizens will be heard and responded to by the media.
We are a two–organization team. The Zimbabwean is the most widely distributed independent newspaper in and outside Zimbabwe, bridging home and diaspora communities. The Zimbabwean is edited by Wilf Mbanga, founder and first Chief Executive of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News (closed in 2003 under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act). The weekly tabloid hardcopy is available throughout Southern Africa and the UK; full contents are online at www.thezimbabwean.co.uk
Question Box has piloted the community agent hotline system in Uganda, focusing on agriculture and general interest questions. The Zimbabwean already has the network of friendly community NGOs on the ground that can serve as the community point persons. What is new here is merging Question Box’s Q&A methodology and software with The Zimbabwean’s presence, and using the two to spark discussion, citizen reporting, and raise awareness in places not served by the physical newspaper.
We will seek out corporate sponsors, such as seed manufacturers, millers, companies that make products rural people use. We will also seek international humanitarian agency sponsors. Callers will hear sponsors’ messages at the beginning of their calls, and receive SMS replies that include thanks to the sponsor, along with messaging.