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Zimbabwe Independent Media Facing Bleak Future

People read local newspapers with headlines stating, "I saw my classmate in the video," referring to the kidnapped girls of the Chibok school shown in a video released May 12 by Boko Haram in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2014.
The future of the privately-owned media in Zimbabwe looks bleak following reports that some newspapers are facing serious financial problems threatening to ground their operations.

According to some media reports, workers at Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of the Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and Southern Eye are said to be going for months without pay or at times receiving half their salaries.

Efforts to get comment from Alpha Media officials were not fruitful but sources confirmed these developments.

Associated News, publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, has dimissed reports that it is facing serious financial problems.

Director Jethro Goko dismissed media reports that the company is planning on retrenching works.

In a statement published on the paper’s website Goko said, “We had under 40 staff in 2010 before our re-launch and now employ more than 200 full-time staff, not including scores of casuals, part-timers, freelancers, vendors and others who make a living directly and indirectly in upstream and downstream operations linked to our business.”

The other two independent publications that appear not to be facing financial problems are the Financial Gazette, which is partly owned by former Rerseve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, and the Zimbabwe Mail, that is owned by a consortium of business people, including Transport Minister, Obert Mpofu.

On the other hand, state media organizations appear unfazed by the harsh economic conditions.

For perspective we turned to media trainer and Radio Dialogue production manager, Zenzele Ndebele, who said there appears as if there is a deliberate effort by government to starve off the independent media by disallowing parastatals to advertise in these papers.