Redesigning Journalism in the Digital Age

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | February 20, 2014

Journalism in the digital age is increasingly about helping audiences filter through the gazillions of content being produced on a daily basis through high quality, interactive and engaging storytelling. Thanks to technology, journalism is being reshaped, and stories are being told with greater innovation.

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Saving Journalism’s Soul: It’s All Storytelling, You Know

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | February 12 2014

Much has been written about how the field of journalism is being disrupted and threatened by technology. In the digital age, anyone can be a journalist, so the story goes. Technology has brushed aside gatekeepers so the playground is now a free for all, reads the narrative.

Granted, the economic model that sustained traditional journalism is undergoing major disruption but that doesn’t mean there’s no validity in the practice. No matter how technology evolves journalism’s essential core of storytelling still matters. If anything, the soul of journalism remains the same. Continue reading

StoryMaker Mobile App Empowers Citizen Journalists to tell Stories

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba  | January 24, 2013

Approximately 40 Zimbabwean citizen journalists received training in May last year to produce community based stories using a free Android mobile-powered App called StoryMaker that facilitates the creation of video stories.

StoryMaker, developed by Small World News, is an open source application that comes with templates and lessons to guide would be storytellers on how to shoot professional videos with mobile phones. Continue reading

How to Be A Social Media Superstar in 2014

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor-At-Large | December 30, 2013

Social media is not going away anytime soon whether you like it or not. It’s now the staple food of the Net, multiplying on a daily basis. While it’s virtually impossible to jump on every social media junket out there fact is you can ignore the phenomenon at your own peril especially if you’re in trying to reach huge volumes of people at the lowest cost possible.

The caveat though is with social media platforms getting clogged by the day, it’s becoming harder to be noticed or get your voice heard. To rise above the fray requires astuteness, creativity, hard work, playfulness, consistency and user sensitivity.

Ultimately, the content you produce is the currency that will define your success in the social media universe. Content is the lynchpin to cut through the noise. To help with framing your content, remember the principle of Five Ws and one H. But you need to add a B. to that, that is, short for budget.

That content needs to be on target and to the point. It does not magically come out of thin air, you need budget for it and devote time to producing it. Attention spans are short-lived in the social media space. Only highly-engaging, interesting, funny, thought-provoking content will attract audiences and provoke interaction with a brand, issue or cause. But it’s always to say it. Often times, sharing on social media is self-serving; after all, social media platforms tend to promote narcissism.

If you want to get more value out of the medium especially for marketing or promoting a cause, you’ll have to be adopt a more nuanced approach. You’ve to cut all the narcissistic crap and put your audience first: informative, engaging, and shareable content that is relevant to a user’s location will be a winner. Understanding user location will drive greater ROI in social media efforts. That’s why it’s important for your content to speak directly to a specific target audience.

“Understanding customers’ location patterns will help companies better predict the behavior of their users, thus a chance to market to them in the right place at the right time,” says Kevin Alansky, CMO at SocialRadar.

Micro videos have great engagement power if executed properly. People like video. But it has to tell a good story. Other visual tools such as images and infographics have potential to increase engagement.

Because of the ephemeral nature of social media, it’s important to adopt a constant and consistent strategy. This will help to build rapport with target audiences. Otherwise you risk becoming a victim of out of sight, out of mind. In the social media world, for you to matter, you’ve to keep showing up.  Real engagement takes time and attention on a daily basis. Most important, don’t forget to measure and report on your efforts: it’s what will tell you whether your are succeeding or not.

Rape Victims Find Healing in Telling Story

By Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd | January 02, 2013 | @ChiefKMasimba

The healing power of telling your story while receiving loving attention is probably one of the most portent forms of medication under the sun. But can it heal the trauma of rape?

According to a recent study reported in the Washington Post, telling stories can help rape victims heal. The study says that reliving the rape experience through repeated telling of the story of the rape experience can help victims to overcome psychological distress.

“The results are the first evidence that the same kind of “exposure therapy” that helps combat veterans haunted by flashbacks and nightmares also works for traumatized sexually abuses teens with similar symptoms,” the Washington Post reported.

According to the report, simply offering victims comforting words and encouraging traumatized girls to forget their ordeals is not helpful because it lets symptoms fester.

University of Pennyslavia psychologist, Edna Foa, who developed a “two-part treatment known as prolonged exposure therapy which involves having patients repeatedly tell their stories and then visit places that remind them of their trauma” said that many of the patients are relieved that somebody wants to hear their stories.

Foa exposed sixty one girls ages 13 to 18 who had been raped or sexually abuses randomly assigning them to 14 weeks of counseling or prolonged exposure therapy.

The idea is that by telling and retelling their trauma, victims can developed a psychological distance from the real event and develop a sense of closure as opposed to repression of negative memory.

“They get a new perspective of what happened. They get used to thinking and talking about the memory and realizing that it was in the past, that its not in the present anymore,” said Foa.