Thursday, September 29, 2016

In the last couple of months Z Kids News in Zambia was in the news. And we know it is bad news when journalists are the news. The license of MUVI TV, that broadcast Z Kids News, got suspended due to still unclarified allegations from the Independent Broadcasting Authority in Zambia. On September 14 the lockdown ended and Z Kids News is now fully operating again. And the cherry on top: in the same week Z Kids News celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Free Press Unlimited has been working with Z Kids News from the start. We are very proud that this news for kids programme has been informing kids in Zambia, and also in other African countries, for 10 years now. The recent lockdown resembles the wonky state of press freedom in Zambia. Freedom House classifies Zambia as 'not free' when it comes to the media. It is important that kids are able to receive professional and reliable news and are not exposed to government propaganda.

Angel Phiri is manager of Z Kids News in Zambia and tells about the programme.

Why is Z Kids News important?

'A better future starts with our children. Because of our multicultural approach we see that our programme is able to act as a bridge between cultures, and is able to present different perspectives to children. We are a platform where kids can express themselves and their views freely. Right now we have two daily bulletins on MUVI TV and the station carries Z Kids News as one of their flagship programmes. We also have a rebroadcast on another channel broadcasting across Africa.'

What are the most memorable stories of Z Kids News?

'There are countless memorable events in ten years Z Kids News. My favorite moments are when our news programme makes an impact on kids we feature. For example, one time a kid was officially honored a hero by the president for rescuing a baby who fell in a well. The president at the time took note of this because Z Kids News covered the story. Another great story that we covered was about a kid who stammers but sings beautifully. After our broadcast the kid received a scholarship from a member of parliament.'

When were you proud of Z Kids News?

'One of my proudest moments was when we received recognition from the Media Institute of Southern Africa who cited Z Kids News as the shining example of why news for kids is important. This happened around 2012, and since then we have seen journalists from other media platforms taking news for kids more seriously, especially in print media.'

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

'The big lesson I have learned is that we need to respect children's right to information and the right to express their opinion.'

What do you find difficult about your work?

'It is not easy to make news for kids. We have a big responsibility. We always have to take caution in the way we use words and visuals and think carefully how we present images of bad news without being harmful to kids. We have had our challenges of not having enough equipment or transport to reach certain areas. And this year there was a period of time we could not broadcast because our license got suspended which affected the state of press freedom in Zambia.'

What do you still want to achieve?

'We want to create more awareness on the importance of news for kids. And we want to be able to broadcast even more stories, especially to our rural communities. Particularly kids in those areas can learn from Z Kids News and share their stories. Unfortunately it is difficult to reach kids in rural areas because they don’t have access to television or internet. We are going to look at how we can use radio instead in order to reach rural areas. However, we also want to introduce television and internet at schools, press clubs and play centers. We are currently working on a model using solarkits for rural television.'

Read more about the lockdown of Z Kids News in the article from De Correspondent (in Dutch) or listen to the NOS radio interview with Jan-Willem Bult, Head Children Youth & Media at Free Press Unlimited (in Dutch).


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