Editor’s note: In an ongoing series, INMA is profiling our most engaged members — our super fans. At a time when we have less face-to-face time, we hope this gives members a chance to learn more about each other. Today we profile Muchemwa Silence Mugadzaweta, digital and online editor for Alpha Media Holdings in Harare, Zimbabwe.
For a largely print-centric country like Zimbabwe, the idea of talking newspapers is a major shift. ASilence Mugadzaweta said he is very proud of the Talking Paper the company launched in 2021.
“It is an interactive print page turned into an audio-visual, and it’s the first of its kind in the country,” Mugadzaweta said. “I have been at the centre of this innovation, and its success gives me confidence.”
INMA recently caught up with him to learn more.
INMA: What big lesson have you learned over the past couple of years that helped shape your plans for 2022?
Mugadzaweta: I have learned that the future is much greater than the past. While you may not have achieved much over the years, tomorrow has great promises. The past couple of years have also shown me that life will never be smooth, there are good and bad days, but the greatest strength is to shift a mind toward solutions.
INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?
Mugadzaweta: I wish I had known there was going to be COVID-19. The pandemic has changed the newsroom in a big way, and it’s never going to be the same. This means a complete overhaul of strategy and revenue generation models.
INMA: What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Mugadzaweta: A promise for a better tomorrow and believing in the work that I do. I give my job my all, and knowing that I am the face behind the digital assets of the biggest independent media organisation in Zimbabwe motivates me.
INMA: What is the craziest job or project you’ve ever done in media — and what did you learn from it?
Mugadzaweta: With my former employer, we launched a new product, Mobile News, using bulk SMS, in partnership with three telecom companies. The subscriber base grew to almost half a million, and it became profitable. Lessons from this were that you need to be agile; there is never a time when all conditions for a process are available.
INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Mugadzaweta: Agility is key in strategy.
INMA: What do you do to relax?
Mugadzaweta: Books and travelling.
INMA: If you hadn’t gone into news media, what was your back-up plan?
Mugadzaweta: Honestly, I cannot think of anything besides news media. It’s been my dream, and I am living it.
INMA: What is your favourite thing to read?
Mugadzaweta: Currently I am reading Tom Goodwin’s Digital Darwinism. Of late, my interest has been in digital media research, audience development, monetisation, and survival of media in the digital disruption age. But I love history.
INMA: What do you find the most challenging/interesting about the news?
Mugadzaweta: The digital transformation drive is a challenging one. Change has always been uncomfortable; sadly for Zimbabwe, we are largely print-centric.
INMA: What are you most excited about for the near future?
Mugadzaweta: The future of multimedia journalism.