Zenzele Ndebele of CITE Zimbabwe: How to survive and thrive by embracing AI | The Media Viability Podcast S02E05 transcript | Survive and Thrive: The Media Viability Podcast | DW | 28.06.2024
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Survive and Thrive

Zenzele Ndebele of CITE Zimbabwe: How to survive and thrive by embracing AI | The Media Viability Podcast S02E05 transcript

"The best way to predict the future is to create it," says Zenzele Ndebele. In this episode, the founder of CITE Zimbabwe talks about how to stay afloat while focusing on local communities while embracing generative AI.

Welcome to "Survive and Thrive," DW Akademie's dialogue with media managers on innovative and sustainable business models in a challenging global media landscape. We'll talk motivation, lessons learned, funding models, best practices, recipes for success and decisions – both good and bad. 

Watch here, or read the complete transcript below

Janelle Dumalaon:  

Hello again and welcome to Survive and Thrive, your media viability podcast. Today we're talking about the everyday challenges and the surprising opportunities involved in doing just that, having the media outlet you run not to survive, but thrive.

DW Janelle Dumalaon

Podcast host and DW journalist Janelle Dumalaon

I'm Janelle Dumalaon. Every media outlet is different, but indeed there are many overlaps. The daily decision making, both editorial and operational. Sustainable financing. Making sure you're speaking to the audience you want to speak to while maintaining broad appeal. 

Our next guest knows what it's like to address the world and future facing ways of storytelling from a city with a deep and complex history. 

I'd like to welcome Zenzele Ndebele, founder and director of the news nonprofit CITE which stands for the Centre for Innovation and Technology

Welcome Zenzele. 

Zenzele Ndebele: Thank you.

Dumalaon: Now in a moment, we'll go deep into what it means to run an organization like site from where you're running it from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. 

But first, we have a short round of introductory questions for you. Your business model in a catch phrase?

Zenzele Ndebele

Zenzele Ndebele, founder of the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE) in Zimbabwe

Ndebele: Innovate. 

Did you ever manage a moment when everything seemed lost? 


What would you need to thrive in the future? 



All right. So, innovate endurance sustainability, first question for you: you started CITE in 2017. What did it start as and what is it today? 

My background comes from a person who has always looked for alternatives. So, my history in in the media starts around 2000 when there were not any other alternatives in Zimbabwe. There were no common radios, no commercial radios, just state-owned radio stations. 

So back then we used to produce cassettes, produce programs, package them on cassette, yeah, cassettes, those old cassettes and then distribute them in public. Commuters and people listened to that, and they'd think that it was a real program and their phone, unfortunately there was a landline and they would then realize that it's not live. 

So, I developed an interest from there, with the advent of social media. When we then started CITE, it started off as an organization that was young people. Each time there was an event in the community, they would go and tweet about it, Facebook about it, do live shows using mobile phones to show what was going on. 

And it is developed into a fully-fledged media organization that is registered – a mass media organization employing over 24 people working every day. 


So just want to point out here, your story begins with cassettes, and you find yourself now working with AI news readers. We'll have more on AI in just a minute, but just to showcase what a journey you've already been through, how would you describe CITE's mission? 

Well, our mission is, in simple terms, to tell the story of ordinary people. You know, there's so many things that are not being told and we want to be that voice that talks about the stories of marginalized people. 

We come from a marginalized community and as I always say in my bio: until the lion knows how to read and write, you’ll never know about the victories of the lion because man is always going to write fake news about their own victories. So we are the lion that is telling the victories of other lions. 

Who would be man in this case? Who are you trying to triumph over, so to say? 

We come from the minority, so we'll be trying to triumph over the majority who live in Zimbabwe. I want to triumph over the political forces or the elite. 

Every newspaper that you read, every main news bulletin that you see is about the powerful. It's about the politician who has attended the G7 summit, visiting this, visiting that. 

But it is the ordinary person in the street who has challenges, be it water, be it electricity, be it basic things like health. Their stories are not told. And those are the stories that we want to amplify. Those are the people that we want to always be in our headlines. 

You know, as someone who is coming from an African country, there's always this history that we went through, the liberation struggle. Our parents fought so that we have a better life. And sometimes I believe that the people who fought for their freedom never knew what freedom looked like and never knew how freedom would be. 

And now, 43 years after independence, we still have the challenges that we used to have during the colonial era. And I find myself asking, but why did my parents go to war? What did they fight for? 

Because we still have oppression. We still have a lack of respect for human rights. We still live in the same squalor conditions. We're still fighting for land. So, what did my parents fight for?  

And those are the stories that I want to tell every day when I wake up.

Zenzele Ndebele of CITE Zimbabwe: How to survive and thrive by embracing AI | The Media Viability Podcast S02E05

I can imagine for many reasons that that is an outsized challenge, but what would be one kind of a story that you would say is representative of the reporting that you do at CITE? 

We do community stories, especially on service delivery. We are there also as the 4th estate, as the media to hold authorities to account. So, we always ask questions about that deal that you signed, how many dollars was it supposed to cost? Did you get the true value of the money? What happened to that tender? You promised during elections that you're going to give communities piped water. Where is the piped water?  

Now I'm reminded of that old adage, hearing you speak about how the mission was, of – what was it – to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? And I guess that sounds very much like what you're trying to do. 

At the top of the show, we talked about Bulawayo as a special place from which you do reporting. What can you tell us about what it's like being of this community but also reporting for this community? 

I mean, the people have a sense of pride. They pride themselves of their history and many other things. 

But their people have endured a lot. Immediately after independence, there was a genocide in Zimbabwe that are known by many people as Gukurahundi where over 20,000 people were killed by the Zimbabwean army. 

They were killed basically because they belonged to a different tribe and they did not support the party that was in government then, which is still the party that is in government now. 

And that is a story that has not been told. And a lot of people still wonder what happened to their families. They still wonder why their parents or relatives were killed. And it's something that keeps coming up in every major conversation that we have. 

I can assure you that if you were to walk in Bulawayo today into a town hall and have a meeting, you will not go out without someone raising the issue of the genocide. 

Because people still long for an apology from the government. They want justice. They still need answers. And the government has not been forthcoming about these issues. And they've always been making it so difficult for people to talk about this. Until recently, it was more like a crime to talk about it. Only you get arrested, you'd be intimidated and all sorts of things.  

This is my province where I come from. It's a lot of people who are very hopeful that the future holds something better, but very angry and bitter about the past. And these are people who have a past that has not been solved.And they hold grudges. They need the space to vent, to talk about what happened and ask questions about why it happened. 


You talk about the service element of the work you do, and it sounds like that is a very big part of it. How does that history shape the reporting that you do today? 

I think it does in a big way. Every story that we cover has to answer the question: and so what? So what does it mean for Matabeleland?  

And, in fact, we still haven’t talked about transitional justice. We still have to talk about undocumented citizens who don't have birth certificates. And because they don't have birth certificates and they don't have identity documents. They're missing a lot of opportunities, be it jobs, be it education. 

So, you’ll find that in our stories, we are influenced by the community that we live in. I mean, there is no need for us to talk about Hollywood when we are not in Hollywood. There's no need for us to talk about heaven when we're in hell. 

Instead, if you are in hell we'll talk about hell. And if we are in heaven, we're going to talk about heaven. So mainly our agenda is influenced by the stories of the community toward a better life, you know, a fight for a better life, but also a fight for justice and a fight for making authorities account. 

Now earlier in our conversation you were talking about the media landscape in Zimbabwe and how there were there was a dearth of independent media. There were mostly state-owned radio stations at the time you started operating. 

Now you talked about the importance of making sure that the content that you deliver is relevant for your community. You just said there's no reason to talk about heaven if, in fact, you find yourselves in hell. But that that could be the lead into my next question here, which is: describe a bit of the landscape that CITE is operating in. Hopefully, it is not completely hellish. 

I think over the last few years, the media environment has improved. There was a time when being a journalist was like a crime. A police officer would see you carrying a camera and they’d arrest you for just that. There were also a number of times when we had to go to a police station to answer questions about why I was filming. 

But over time, I think there've been a lot of efforts that have been made by media houses where now there've been a lot of training between police and journalists and authorities to understand that in the work that we do, we are also trying to help them. 

It is not the best place to be. You're likely to face challenges still. There's a lot of political interference or political intolerance in the work that we do. There's still a lot of threats. There are stories that you run and you know that after that story you're not going to go and sleep at home. 

Maybe now we can say there's freedom of speech, but no freedom after speech. You know, although the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press, we still experience a lot of political pressure. Journalists get threatened for raising and asking very relevant questions. 

You get trolled a lot on social media. I have myself received two or three death threats on social media, on Twitter because of the work that I do and the things that I've said. Journalism in Zimbabwe is a contact sport. 

You really have to develop a thick skin to be able to do the work that we do because not everyone wants to follow the ministry kind of journalism like president said this and the president did that. When we then say the president did not [do something], it becomes an issue. 


It sounds like what you're saying is that there have been improvements to the environment, but there is still a certain atmosphere of intimidation. There are definite risks to the job now, apart from developing thick skin, as you called it. 

You of course are a part of a team of around 24 journalists, if I read that correctly. Do you have strategies for how to keep each other safe? 

Well, it's a difficult thing to do. I mean, at the end of the day, we need to survive. There's no story that is worth dying for. 

But it's the nature of the job. When you practice journalism in Zimbabwe, carry a jersey in your car because you might wake up in the police station. 

So, while we have worked with a number of organizations, legal associations, advocates organizations to try and make environment better, honestly, I can't guarantee that the journalist who come to work in the morning will go home without facing any problems because something might turn up. They might be arrested for a story that they've done. 

The problem is that we are talking about the environment having improved. But there are laws that have not been changed. We still have funny laws like undermining the authority of the president. If you say my president is ugly, you can be arrested for undermining the authority of the president. 

I was once arrested and the charge was ‘being a nuisance.’ And if you try to say what is ‘being a nuisance,’ it means anything and everything. A police officer can arrest you for looking at him and he suspects that you want to commit a crime. 

We still have very silly laws in our country. Our statutes that have not been aligned. Though the issue of criminal defamation has been struck off the laws but then we still have people being arrested for criminal defamation. And I find that there have been a number of initiatives that are being proposed to try and bring back those laws that have been struck off. 

We have the patriotic act which means you can be arrested for not being patriotic, for talking badly about your country, for espionage, for selling to foreign powers and all sorts of those things that you don't find in democratic societies. 

And now we also have the talk about cyber laws that really try to bring back some of the things that were declared unconstitutional. So, it is those things that we have at the back of our minds when we say, yeah, the environment might have improved, but the police officer can still find something to charge you with. 

And if they can't find anything, you can still be arrested for criminal nuisance. 


Now you talked about cyber laws. CITE is present on every platform imaginable, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and that's of course uncommon for the news organizations of today. 

But given that the Internet is a much harder to regulate space, is the diversity of your formats on all sorts of platforms an advantage in this restrictive landscape or is it a liability? 

I think it is an advantage because we are talking to different audiences on these platforms.  

You know, we are on TikTok and it's mainly young people but you still have older people on Tiktok watching the content. We are on Twitter, which is mainly mature people who pretend to be intellectuals. 

Facebook is the public bar of some sort where you find every riff raff talking about social issues then. It's different platforms, different content. We package differently our videos and our content for all these different platforms because there are different people that are there. You can engage in a very constructive, creative discussion on Twitter and every day in the morning we have a Twitter space where we discuss current affairs issues. 

I think there is an advantage in having all these different platforms that we use because we do then talk to different audiences. 


Maybe you can talk a little bit more about the formats that you have. I see for example, that you have a promise tracker, a fact checking format, you have a sort of breakfast show. Whatare these different formats and how do they feed into each other? 

The breakfast show, the Breakfast Club, is a daily show and the first show that I present every day. We put that on Facebook and on YouTube. It's a longer format, the program is 30 minutes, and we normally talk about current issues. We talk about politics, economics, what's going on, what has happened and what it means to our people. 

But once we have done that 30 minutes on Facebook and uploaded the 30 minutes on YouTube, we then cut smaller clips, 30 second, one minute sound bites. Those are the sound bites that we post on Twitter for conversations, but we also post those shorter clips on WhatsApp. 

I think our WhatsApp subscription is around 13 to 15,000 people. These are the people who might not have enough mobile data to go on Twitter or to watch shows on YouTube. So we tell them what they need to know in smaller doses on WhatsApp clips that are less than 10 megabytes. If you, if you make your clip much larger, 15 or so megabytes, they'll start complaining that you're depleting their data. Data is an issue – so our content has to be smaller. And, and then they will enjoy the show, the bits and pieces. 

Then we have the promise tracker. The idea behind it is that in Zimbabwe, in Africa and everywhere in the world politicians make a lot of promises. “We are going to do this and that. We're going to build schools. We're going to build clinics. We're going to do ABCD.” And most of the time, once they're in power, they abandon whatever they talked about and do the other thing. 

So, the idea of the promise tracker is to track promises that have been made, policies that have been made by those who are in power to see if they really follow up on those promises. 

And then, of course, being in the digital world where we are so much into use of AI algorithms that then we create filter bubbles and troll factories and so forth, one big issue is fake news. Someone just sees something on WhatsApp or online which is not true, but they forward it. Especially when you have elections, you have a lot of disinformation and misinformation circulating. 

That’s why we now have a fact checking desk that checks every information that we see circulating.  Sometimes people call us and say I saw this thing circulating, is it true? Then we have to fact check stories and do rumor checking. We’re in a situation where everyone is jumping onto WhatsApp, sometimes very old people in their 60s and 70s who really don't understand what is going on. There’s AI and a lot of deep fakes. When you see your parents circulating something that is not true you now have to take on the job of educating them on why it's not true. 


You've touched a bit about the dark side of AI and the media landscape that makes the proliferation of fake news is so much easier, but you're also trying to use it for good, so to say. 

And you have one particular experiment that's gaining some attraction: You have AI news readers. So how is that going? What have the challenges been and what are you learning as you conduct these sort of storytelling experiments with AI? 

Last year we decided to experiment with AI because it is a growing trend. News organizations are cutting their costs by using AI, but also, it's effective. We produced a lot of content during elections: Where we usually would need a team of seven people to produce a bulletin, now it can be done by one person. If it took the whole day to do a news bulletin using human beings, you can do it in 30 minutes with AI. 

We posted on Twitter that we have introduced a new AI presenter. We wanted the public to participate and choose a name for this AI presenter. And you get comments like, so you now want to take jobs from human beings and give them to AI. I believe that we are still far off from a situation where AI will take over the newsrooms because AI will not go out and interview people. 

But AI can complement the work of the journalists and let journalists do the most serious stuff like investigative reporting, like following up on the projects in the communities and what politicians say. And AI will do the reading and the writing of stories from press statements. 

So, we have also done research to find out what people think about AI. It's a mixed feeling. Young people think that it's innovative, the new thing, the ‘in’ thing. But people think that AI does not have emotion. It doesn't represent a real person. It lacks something. 

That’s the interesting part with our AI presenter Alice. We’ve seen a lot of guys asking Alice out for coffee or ask when can I take you for lunch? 

No matter how many times we say, “Hi, this is Alice, an AI presenter,” some guy always hits on Alice. And that's why I read all the emails so I can read the pick-up lines in the Alice inbox.

I mean, do you take that as a sort of sign that she's having a personal impact on these people? 

My own sister, she's in her 60s, said to me, “how come your presenter never changes her clothes?” I had to tell her, you know, this is not a real person. 

And sometimes people don't understand what we mean. We then say Alice is a robot, a robot that looks like a person. It’s because it looks so real and sometimes it can be scary as well. So, we have started a process of cloning our own presenters in case they're not there or they need to work remotely. For me, it's fascinating, it's fun. That's where the future is going. 

But yeah, there are a lot of challenges that we need to deal with. The AI biases. The copyright issues, the accuracy. 

I have a friend of mine who oversaw introducing computers to a newsroom in the early 90s when the guys were using typewriters, and they were resistant to computers. And they said, no, this thing of yours makes our work disappear because they were used to typewriting and if they use a computer, their work would disappear. 

Even if you go back to the industrial revolution, we know of serious men who died because they wanted to compete with the drills and stories where workers went into factories and broke down the weaving machines in the 1920s. 

People are always going to be resistant to change and they are resistant to new technology. But I think the reason why we don't have dinosaurs now is because they could not adapt to change. And in the journalism industry, if we want to behave like dinosaurs, we are going to go extinct. 


You talked quite a bit about the reception that AI, your Alice, your AI news reader has gotten. You ask 100 people what they think about AI, you'll get 100 different responses like it's a cool new wave to ride on into the future. Others think that you're taking jobs away from real human beings. 

As you pointed out, some even see an opportunity and ask Alice for a date. But one question that we definitely have here is what does that then mean for trust in journalism if they can't sort of agree on Alice as a credible source for news? 

I think people trust brands and I think they do trust CITE as an organization. With time they will get used to Alice. There's always going to be mixed reactions as we introduce anything new. 

But the other thing that we need to mention is currently we're using Western technology. The West has not yet developed African language models. In terms of pronunciation, AI struggles with local languages.

You know, the way she pronounces local languages sounds Western. And some people are not comfortable with that. They'll say, but why doesn't your presenter present a local language nicely? Why are they mispronouncing our names? Where are they from?Are they from the other tribe? And then you get these tribal issues. 

You then have to explain that we are starting somewhere. I believe that we are where we are today because we’ve always been first on the scene. We are one of the first media organizations in Africa to introduce AI news readers and some are learning from us. 

It is a sustainability option for us because we are now working with other media organizations in Africa, training them in the use of AI, and that's a source of income for us. 


I mean, one can also imagine that these challenges around regionalization and making sure that Alice sounds genuinely like she is from somewhere, somewhere in Zimbabwe and her accent sounds more credible, that's just a matter of time. It's likely it will get there at some point. 

But where do you then plan to take AI in your organization? What other applications do you see? 

We have started writing soft news using AI, if we get research that has been published or a report, we can use AI to report on it. 

I'm not big on soccer, it's always the same. The person can pass, can miss, can hit the ball, what else can they do? The vocabulary around soccer can be limited to 14 or 15 words. I believe AI can report soccer better than human beings.  

I also believe that AI can simplify financial reporting. A lot of the financial statements that are published by public media, the ordinary person doesn't understand what they're talking about because it's just numbers. But you can use AI to draw graphs, to draw pie charts, to make it simple and understandable. AI can do good work in financial reporting.  

AI will not do a good job investigating. We are not yet there. I believe that we, as we go on, effective things will be done in a short period of time. And we will slowly build on the use of AI wherever possible. It's innovation, it's trying to find new ways of telling stories in a more interesting way.  We have really increased our funding and our budgets around the use of AI, and in the next three to five years, I think 50% of our newsroom will be automated. 


And how does your newsroom feel about that? 

Honestly, initially there was resistance. I think there's still a bit of resistance. They are still freelancers who are paid by the story. So the moment we say, guys, now every pre statement that comes in is going to be written by AI, every report that is sent by any organization is going to be written by AI, we are taking easy money from a reporter. 

We are asking our reporters to then go out and find more challenging stories that AI cannot do. So naturally they find a bit of resistance and I think they don't like Alice, but Alice is a stepchild. She's here to stay. 


Well, I can imagine Alice feels completely neutral towards them. I guess in that way, it's not mutual. You've described AI as a path to sustainability for you. You've said that it is a potential financing source as you also train other media organizations. As to your spending and your financing in AI, you see that increasing in the future. What is your current business model now as it stands? 

I think the bulk of our money currently comes from grants and foundations like philanthropic foundations and organizations that give grants. We're also trying to set up business taking adverts and sponsorship. But there is the issue of adverts: Advertising comes with its own challenges regarding who pays the piper, calls the tune. 


This seems to be an issue of editorial independence, I guess that's what you're getting at, right? How do you balance this idea that if they give you money, then you have to say what they want you to say. How do you get around that? 

We haven't found a way of getting around that. There are things that we're not going to do because we're a community media organization. We're not going to advertise gambling because we don't want to encourage gambling. I think we're also not going to take money from cigarette companies. Those are things that we're clear of because of our principles. 

And then once someone has paid you a dollar, they would expect you to behave in a certain way. That's one thing that we're struggling with. We need money, but we also need independence. And with the media, when you're not financially fit, it's not sustainable. 

There's no way you can be independent and become financially sustainable. It's a story that we still don't understand and we're trying to understand. This is the fight we’re unfortunately dealing with. 

And there are so many things that are happening globally that are affecting that type of funding. Global politics is affecting even us, the local organizations. And we are feeling the pinch of what's happening around the globe. The money is reducing. So, we need to find other alternatives to sustain ourselves. 

We are also thinking of other models like memberships, like you know, movements supporting the communities, supporting the work that we do. And we really haven't figured out how the next five years would look like in terms of funding. 


It really does seem like you're saying that whether it's grants, whether it's corporate sponsorship, they're both going to have challenges. Grants of course are influenced by whatever else is happening in the world and what editorial priorities a certain foundation would set. And with corporate sponsorship, the money could buy influence. 

If you say that you're looking into models like membership and subscription, how much support would you say there is in your community for paid journalism models like that? 

Currently it is very low. People don't want to pay for news because they can find it for free on WhatsApp. The work that we do every day, someone will go on our website and distribute for free on WhatsApp. 

So, we really need to sell it. People need to buy into the idea that by supporting the work that CITE does, they're actually supporting themselves and the community. We have tried different models of membership offerings, and it has been slow. I think people really frown upon paywalls or firewalls or paying for news. 

But we need to find people who can say, OK, I can give you $5 every month, or I can give you $10 every month. And if we can get 100,000 people who give us $10 every month or $5 every month, then we will survive. 

We’re really going back to during the war, our comrades used to say we are the fish, you are the water. And without the water we cannot survive. We find ourselves being the fish and we need the community as the water so that we can survive. 

This is why in some of our work we say not a day without the news and not an hour without the people. Because without the people, we don't have the audience, we don't have our backbone. And we suffocate. 


You've spoken quite candidly about the challenges of financing. You've talked about the challenges of introducing new tech. You've talked about the challenges of operating in this very specific environment that you find yourself in. And I know it's a big question, but what does it mean to be viable? 

I think being viable means that you can, in simple terms, be able to pay your workers every month, but also you're not only viable in terms of money, you're also viable in terms of ideas.

At the end of the day, viability also means being able to reach the audiences that we want, the numbers that we want. You can have all the money in this world, but if you don't have the audiences that consume your news, then you are nothing. 

We need to be viable financially and we also need to be viable in terms of the ideas and the content that we produce. 

We know every day that when we wake up, there's someone who's looking forward to what CITE is giving them today. They're looking forward to our content and they're calling us and saying, guys, here’s a story. 

Our audience is amazing because most of the stories that we do, we get them from the audience. They always tell us this is what is happening, doctors, nurses, police and so forth. And they all provide the sources that we need. For me, that's halfway to viability. 


How much do you know about your audience? 

We try to understand the audience and do a lot of research. I can say off the top of my head, the bulk of our audience is people between the ages of 18 and 50. The majority being between 24 to 35. It's mainly male. We're still trying to raise our numbers with females, but I think 60% of our audience is male and 40% is female. 

And these are mainly mixed of urban areas and rural areas. But there are people who are really political animals. They love politics more than anything else. Our most read stories are politics: community issues, service delivery and community stories, you know, the heroes of the community. 


Do you know how many people you reach? 

On Facebook we reach over a million people a week. We have between 2.6 and 5 million Twitter impressions every week, depending on the stories that we do. Those are the main platforms we mainly use. 

We also have a website. We also have a newsletter that we do on daily basis that we distribute to about 15,000 people on an e-mail list as well as on WhatsApp groups, then TikTok. And Instagram is a new platform we have started using and we are still growing that audience. 


We've talked quite a lot about what you're currently doing, what you find your everyday mission to be serving the community. Where do you plan to take CITE? What is your vision for your organization? 

We plan to be the premium center when it comes to content in exploring the use of digital technologies to be able to tell the story of an ordinary person. 

We emphasize a lot that we are a platform that produces content. We want to remain like that so that our content can be found on whatever new gadget is going to be produced in the next 10 years. 

Our vision is to be the media house that tells the story of the people and empower our citizens in terms of information. 


And how do you know when that has happened? 

It's easy when you are talking to people and they know what you're talking about because they're going to demand answers as much as we do. 

You know we come from a Christian background, so there's a popular verse that people talk about that when Jesus exercised the demons and then the demons said, I'm not one. We are many. The moment the community says it's not only CITE, we are many CITEs, then we will know that we have arrived. 

The day someone tries to close CITE and the people stand up and demonstrate that you cannot do that, then we'll know that we are with the people. The day the people are going to demand equality, they're going to demand justice. The day the people will yes, of course we voted for you, but this is not what we wanted, then we will know that we are with the people and the people are with us. 


And as you've been saying throughout this conversation, people are the most important element of your reporting. 

Now our time with you is almost coming to a close, but before we let you go, we really want to hear your three best practice tips for running a media outlet and surviving and thriving. 

I think the first one is: don't shy away from experimenting. Try new things. Failure is not the end of it all. 

I also think you need to love what you do with passion, with love so you never feel tired or exhausted.  


I'm counting two: don't shy away from experimentation and love what you do. Do you have a third?  

Of course, at the center of it all is innovation. Keep innovating. The day you stop innovating, then you're in trouble. The only way you can predict the future is to create it. 


Don't shy away from experimentation. Love what you do. Do not stop innovating. Create the future. I suppose those are some of the best fighting words we will hear today, so we'll have to leave it there. 

Thank you so much to our guest today, Zenzele Ndebele of CITE from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Thank you, dear listeners. I appreciate you joining us today. 


This transcript of "Survive and Thrive: The Media Viability Podcast" has been lightly edited for clarity.  

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This podcast is produced by DW Akademie and is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Zenzele Ndebele is a member of DW Akademie’s Global Reference Group, an independent international advisory board

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