Thandiwe Moyo—who comes from a small town called Chiredzi in the southern part of Zimbabwe—has just started her Master of Journalism degree at the JMSC. She hopes to use the course as a stepping stone to develop her career as a journalist specialising in humanitarian issues and drive improvements in press freedom in Zimbabwe.
‘l have had a narrow perspective in the way media tells stories or reports on issues going on in the world, and having grown up in a society that does not have a varied or broad freedom of expression, I hope to go beyond what l think l know about media coverage and be able to bring a change in my perspective and that of my society one day,’ said Moyo.
Moyo will be completing the MJ programme on a part-time basis over two years as she is also working as a PR and Communications Assistant at the Crossroads Foundation, a non-profit charity which connects the donation of resources with those in need of help, both in Hong Kong and internationally.
‘My future goal is to inspire, help and create opportunities for others by sharing stories of people who cannot voice out their opinions due to media barriers or limited access to platforms where they can be heard,’ she said.
‘I wish to become a humanitarian journalist, as l believe the world we live in today has become more connected due to the increased number of humanitarian issues that continue to affect a huge number of people in disadvantaged communities.’
Moyo is one of six children and is the first person in her family to attend university, having previously completed an undergraduate degree in international studies and journalism, and a diploma in mass communication.
Almost everyone in Moyo’s family has worked in the humanitarian field and her mother is a social worker, although didn’t have the opportunity to go to school herself.
‘I grew up in a community which mostly relies on aid, and at times I heard people discussing how the aid provided was not sufficient or relevant to the need at hand. I then grew up with a desire to work as an aid worker as l felt l understood what it would entail and how aid operations were done in poor communities. I’ve learnt that it is through the media that needs are met, and that reporting on certain aid needs can influence what is provided at the end.’
Moyo first visited Hong Kong in 2014 through an exchange programme between her university in South Africa and HKU, a trip which she had to fundraise for herself. Eight HKU students then went to Zimbabwe for a month where they helped to teach in local schools and opened a library in one of them using books supplied by the Crossroads Foundation.
Moyo previously worked as a Production Assistant intern at state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), and explained that although there are independent newspapers in Zimbabwe, media in the country is not really independent as there are traces of government influence in reporting.
She also said that some media organisations rely on old fashioned and out-of-date equipment. ‘In 2011, the last time I was there [at the ZBC] doing an internship, they were using VHS cassette tapes to record the news,’ Moyo said.
‘Whilst there are online versions of newspapers and the internet is accessible in the capital city, Harare, coverage in small towns is patchy and when people do go online it is often with a mobile phone. Most people now have smartphones, albeit the cheaper, simpler models.’
From her studies so far at the JMSC, Moyo has found the Media Law and Ethics course to be particularly interesting. ‘Journalists in Zimbabwe don’t always follow those ethics because of their relationship with the government’, she said. ‘Journalism should be objective and fair but in Zimbabwe it isn’t always like that.’
Zimbabwe was ranked 124 out of 180 countries in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders, which states that President Mugabe drives media restrictions in the country, with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act requiring all journalists to register and get accreditation from the government annually. Amnesty International has also reported that journalists, such as Itai Dzamara, have gone missing in recent years.
72 new Master of Journalism students started their classes in the 2016–17 academic year on 1 September. Along with Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and mainland China, this year students have also joined the MJ programme from South Africa, Cambodia, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, India, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands and Russia.
Follow Moyo on Twitter here and visit her blog here.
Application to join the Master of Journalism programme for the 2017‒18 academic year is now open. To learn more, click here.