Friday, December 30, 2011

Americans Through African’s Imagination

Amber Skorpenske
Journalism Major

Internship Lessons

At the first day of my internship at World Vision my supervisor Kwenda Paipi took note of the interns (myself and my colleagues) names and commented, “These do not sound like American names! Why?”

It’s true. Flango, Dubois and Skorpenske are not exactly your all-American names. This would be the first (but not the last time) that our supervisor began to ask us questions about America. Through studying here and working with locals I have encountered a lot of questions about the place I call home. I was usually a little nervous during these because I did not want to sound ignorant or give the wrong information, but many of the questions seemed to be about the average American person and their day-to-day life.

My supervisor had a love for country music and western movies and would

continuously ask us about the status of cowboy’s and Indians and if they were still fighting in Texas. At first this struck me as odd because in my own “self-centered American way” I thought that all people knew these kinds of events were in the past and were long over.

Dependence on Movies

I realized that the average Zambian loves movies and in turn, they are exposed to American movies – most of which are older. It dawned on me that the main exposure that Zambians have to Americans are through movies and television shows.

This is both a good and bad thing. When Kwenda realized I was Mexican he said, “Oh yes! Mexicans are very involved in their extended family, I saw it in a movie.” However, in the same breath he also stated, “White-Americans are not…most of their movies only show the husband and wife.”

It was interesting to me how he believed wholeheartedly everything that he saw in the movies as a truthful interpretation of American life. But when asked if he thought Americans were cold to one another he repeatedly said that he just thought they were “hard-working” and “dedicated.” These characteristics are shown in movies that illustrate the struggle for the “American dream” or any action movie that shows a super-hero fighting for good.

Issues with relying on Movies

However, this practice might have a huge downfall. While there are a lot of great classic movies there are also television shows like “Jersey Shore” and movies like “Talladega Nights” in which Americans are portrayed as ignorant, rich, wasteful and “easy.” If a Zambian were to see this and if they truly believed what they saw on their television their perceptions of us would be a lot different and in turn, their actions toward us might change.

While this began to worry me, my supervisor assured me that most Zambians see “muzungu’s” or “white people” as a symbol of hope, as someone who is coming to help their country and as a nation that supports them.

Amber Skorpenske is one of 18 Ohio University students studying abroad in Zambia with the Institute for International Journalism over Winter intercession.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lessons Behind the Camera: Interning at ZNBC

By Danielle Parker

In Lusaka, Zambia

For three weeks, I interned at Zambian National Broadcasting Company (ZNBC).  Housed within the national media complex, ZNBC is the nation's largest TV and radio hub with one main urban and several regional stations.  Through my internship, I learned many things about Zambian culture, international journalism, and politics.

Despite its wide range, ZNBC is government-owned, meaning much of the coverage doubles as a public relations boost for the party in power. However the new Patriotic Front government made many promises during the campaign season to begin the process of liberating the media from government control: a commitment that has yet to show fruit.

My internship experience highlighted the particular challenges that arise when working as a government-owned media source in a developing country. However, to my surprise, this experience taught me more about the Zambian people than I would learn throughout my entire 3-week stay.

The week in the newsroom

A normal day at ZNBC begins with a morning meeting beginning roughly at 8:15, although reporters appear in the main newsroom anywhere between then and 9:00 a.m. Each journalist then gives an update on what they worked on the day before, their plans for that day, and any developing ideas before rushing off to their daily assignments.
Fellow intern, Molly Nocheck editing in the ZNBC newsroom.

My first week on the job was spent strictly in the newsroom where I observed both TV and radio production. My training in keyboarding was at a premium as even the editors were forced to type with index fingers, severely delaying the turn-around of stories. I saw the main TV bulletin produced without a teleprompter and stories thrown out because of poor Internet connection. The number of story ideas was never the issue; it was the lack of resources to cultivate them. As a result, the editors often ended up padding the programs with stories from the BBC or other media sources.

Meanwhile, the only evidence of a managing editor was the smell of cigarette smoke that crept from his office and the occasional walk through the newsroom to say hello. After 16 hours of sitting in the adjoining newsroom, I still had no idea about his job description.

Out in the field

After some pressure on my supervisors from my program director, I was finally sent out on an assignment with one of the reporters.

A lack of resources demands strategic planning as ZNBC vehicles
 wait for their next assignments outside of the Media Complex.
One of the largest issues I observed was the severe lack of both transport and modern equipment. For a staff of about 20 reporters, there are only three available cars and drivers and three cameras. As a result, reporters go into the field in groups, with the car dropping off and picking up as necessary.

As if the coordination is not enough, many of the events being covered run up to an hour late, leaving one or more reporters out of a ride and sometimes out of a story. I once waited with a reporter and cameraman for a minister that appeared almost 1 ½ hours late: time that could have been spent on cultivating another journalist's story.

Beyond the newsroom

However, despite the severe lack of resources and journalistic freedom, the reporters at ZNBC manage every day to widen the perspectives of Zambians across the nation. I learned that what they lack in resources, they make up in drive. The people I met taught me lessons not only about international journalism, but also about the Zambian people and culture.

Ellen Hambuba is a brilliant beauty that acts as one of the leading reporters. It was she who let me write and read the story that aired on the main news bulletin. She taught me that excellence and professionalism exist everywhere, no matter what level of resources are available and that a girl should never be without her face powder.

Barbara Malilwe, another leading reporter, bought me nshima for lunch and made me eat it all even though I was full. She taught me that Zambian culture centers around family, hospitality and most importantly: relationships.

Mr. Voster, a driver for the station, taught me that pride in one's work is the most important characteristic of a productive employee.

These are just a few examples of the wonderful reporters, cameramen, producers, and support staff that I met while working in the Media Complex. In the newsroom where gospel music and the BBC news were in constant supply, I discovered the beauty of the Zambian people. Their values and zest for life far surpass those of any group of people I've ever encountered in the developed world.

From my internship, I learned that the power of knowledge far surpasses that of money. The ability for the frequent, open, and smooth flow of relevant information is what distinguishes independent U.S. media from government-owned Zambian, and the haves from the have -less'.

Danielle Parker is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession, about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.

The Strength of Africa

In Lusaka, Zambia

When I asked Beauty, one of the widows at the Chikumbuso Women’s and Orphans Project in Lusaka, Zambia, how the women in Africa carry things on their heads so effortlessly, she laughed a hearty chuckle and simply said, “It’s tradition!” Seeing the baffled look on my face, she explained further. “I’ve always done it, even when I was a little girl. It’s much easier that way. And if it falls off, I just pick it up and keep going.” Beauty’s anecdote epitomizes the natural strength the women of Zambia convey each day. From carrying babies on their backs wrapped in chitenges, to cooking steaming hot nshima for several friends and family members, to the infamous loads of goods they rest upon their crowns, these women are the true warriors of Zambia.

During my internship, I have witnessed hard work and perseverance of African women. The widows and single mothers resort to Chikumbuso because Zambian life is difficult for them on their own. Society and lifestyle do not easily support women, even with development and independence. Many women that I have spoken with do not go past grade 8 in the Zambian school system. They become employed in hair plaiting (braiding), maid service or not at all. One of the girls that I spoke with at Chikumbuso named Elida enjoys repairing bicycles, though she confided in me that it is difficult for her to be taken seriously when she does because of her gender.
Our encounter with Chief Nkana also shed light on some of the conditions women face in Zambia. He spoke of the tradition of having several wives, and though he felt that 10 or 12 were too many, two or three were still acceptable. The Chief also brought up the situation of young girls drinking and having sex, cautioning against such activities, as though females were solely responsible for unprotected sex. His views were far different from ours, as we could see when he pointed out that our shorts were also too short; and then questioned how our fathers ever let us out of the house!

Unfair Expectations

When we visited the village of Mazabuka and were given tours by women of the village, they also spoke of the hardships that are faced by Zambian women. Men often take several wives, though they can “drop” them at any time. When I asked if the dropped wives could remarry, our village tour guides laughed as if I were a lunatic. When they noticed that I didn't understand, they exchanged a subtle glance. One of the women, Patricia, said, “Well yes, they can but… they normally don’t.”
It is impossible for me to comprehend marrying someone with several husbands, let alone being “dropped” at any point and then being barred from remarrying. It still seems as though the U.S. has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights, it may be that Zambia has an even longer way to go. Traditional thinking about gender roles that exists in rural villages is beginning to clash with more modern, urban ideals. It is believed that women are not allowed to smoke in public; however, at a popular urban bar in Lusaka, I noticed a woman enjoying a cigarette outside (though it was the first and only time I witnessed it).

A Warrior’s Heart

Women are the driving force of the Zambian family. While men enjoy rest time during the day, married women gather food, cook it, and then clean up afterwards and continually throughout the day. All the while, the husbands sit outside their homes and wait for this process to take place. Seeing these women work so arduously and selflessly fills me with admiration. Though they face tragedy each day, these women possess a resilience that is untouchable.
When women at Chikumbuso received news that a community member died in an auto accident, many of them mourned together and left the compound. The next day, however, they were back making bags, sewing fabric and earning a living for themselves. In the face of Africa’s most brutal hardships, Zambian women stare the fiercest lion right in the face and challenge it.

Brooke Bunce is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.

She is a sophomore magazine journalism major with a specialization in women and gender studies.

Kids Just Want To Have Fun

By Adam Flango
In Lusaka, Zambia
A child plays with toys outside of Chikumbuso Widows and Orphans Project in Lusaka
A large group of girls shows up and immediately the boys started to show off. They flex muscles, dance wildly and smile mischievously. Some shyly hide, peaking from behind a shrub before catching the young lady's eye and returning to safety. Others push and shove, jockeying for the fleeting affection of the pretty ladies waving at them.
Place that scene in any country and it fits. Boys act like boys, whether it is in Zambia, the United States or any other country. No matter the economic conditions or social status surrounding a child, the basic dynamic between children is the same.
I came to Zambia with the idea that it could be true, that children, in particular boys, fundamentally act the same at a young age. I had no sociological or scientific basis for my conclusion; no study that I read pointed me in that direction. Instead, it was through interacting my younger cousins and talking to those that work with children that peaked my interest.
In Zambia, we have spent time observing and interacting with children in a casual play setting and characteristics common on American playgrounds are present here as well. There are bullies shoving kids down, “nerds” watching from the outside and every character in between.
In every village we have visited, boys puff out their chests when they see our group. Like most children, they try to put on a show for us either through song, dance or even playing sports.

A typical soccer goal in rural village in Zambia's Central Province
Sport: The Universal Language
While playing soccer with boys at the Kasisi Orphange, there was an older boy named Moses who played the role of star player perfectly. He tried to kick harder and run faster than the other boys. At the age of seven, he was confident enough to run at me every time I touched the ball, the only child to do so. It was the same kind of cockiness that I had at his age.
Then there was another boy, who spoke too softly for his name to be heard, that played the foil to Moses. He was smaller and most likely younger than the other boys. Each time he ran for the ball, a younger boy shoved him down. Undeterred, he stood up and tried again. Walk onto any youth soccer or any sport field in the United States and you will find this same little-engine-that-could kid.
Though the resources are vastly different, it is fascinating to see the same kind of reactions and roles played by children. Kids playing on dirt without shoes in donated clothes still act like the kids playing on manicured lawns wearing the latest Adidas. Though I grew up exponentially more fortunate economically than the children at Kasisi, I recognized the expression on their faces when they kicked around the soccer ball. It's the same happy, carefree face I wore while playing soccer as a child and still have when I kick the ball around.
There are seemingly countless differences between Zambia and the United States: the size, the health concerns, the economy, etc. But next time you visit a foreign country, try to embrace the similarities instead of the differences. Visiting several villages and playing soccer at Kasisi opened my eyes to how similar people who appear different can be and it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Adam Flango is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession, about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.
He is a senior magazine journalism major.

Zambian Road Tripping

By Tom Ginley

in Lusaka, Zambia

For most Americans, the road trip is a family pastime. Everyone packs into a car, often uncomfortably, and travels for hours to a vacation destination. Personally, I loathe long car rides. In the United States, any ride over three hours very quickly gets boring and old to me. The highways in the U.S. are not very scenic for the most part; with many of my childhood vacations spent looking out the window at urban areas. I guess part of my dislike for long road trips is that I cannot fall asleep very easily in vehicles, so my only option is to take in the scenes of houses, more traffic, and the occasional farm as we speed towards are destination.

When I initially reviewed our itinerary for our program, one of the first things I noticed was the long hours of travelling by bus to different areas of Zambia. I obviously realized that this would be my most dreaded part of the trip; cramming into a bus with seventeen other students and our luggage for 7 hours was not ideal. The only sense of relief I had was the destination would be different and exciting to experience. However, once we passed the outer city limits of Lusaka, I was pleasantly surprised.

Low clouds hover over the busy Soweto Market

Scenic Zambia

The scenery in Zambia is like nothing I have ever experienced. The land is sprawling for as far as one can see, with rolling hills covered in tall grass, trees, village huts and various animals. However, the

one aspect that really intrigues me is the sky. Clouds here in Zambia are unlike anything I have ever seen in the U.S. Not only are they vastly more present, but also much greater in size. The cloud ceiling covers the sky as far as I can see, and I have found myself spending much of our

road trips simply marveling at the sky. The clouds seem endless, with all different shapes and sizes. With the rain season in full swing, the thunderstorm clouds and lightning create an eerie yet intriguing visual. At night, the giant clouds become backlit with lightning that warns of the impending showers.

Clouds hover over the Victoria Falls in Livingstone.

All this, with the addition to the foreign absence of planes marking the skies like in the U.S., Zambian road trips are much more enjoyable for me than normal ones in America. While I may still be a bit crammed, uncomfortable, and unable to sleep, I am at least able to take in beautiful scenery that rivals any I have ever experienced back in the U.S. Because of this, I actually began to look forward to our road trips instead of hating them as I do back home.

Tom Ginley is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession, about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism

The Kurrum blockade

Syed Irfan Ashraf
A DAY before the Thall-Parachinar road reopened, I was at the Peshawar Airport along with other passengers climbing aboard an eight-seater Cessna belonging to a private flying club, with what appeared to be a trainee pilot at the controls.

As the aircraft took off, I looked around to inspect the passengers. It did not appear that all of them could have easily afforded what is probably the most expensive commuter service in the country. I learnt later that the small fleet of four aircraft, which regularly travel between Peshawar and Parachinar, was utilised out of acute necessity.

To understand the few travelling options in this part of the country, one has to go back to late 2007 when sectarian Sunni-Shia rivalry in Kurram Agency spun out of control leading to the closure of the main Thall-Parachinar road. Resultantly, insecurity severed physical communication between upper Kurram and the rest of the country. Ever since then, the half-a-million people of Parachinar have lived in isolation, using irregular routes to travel down country. Despite the recent peace deal between the rival tribes (predominantly Bangash and Turi), there is still an environment of fear, and many people remain reluctant to travel on the road.

Initially, the Paktia-Gardez-Kabul-Torkham route was used to enter Pakistan via Afghanistan. It was a difficult and costly option. Normally, the 250km distance between Peshawar and Parachinar takes less than four hours. However, because of the violence, in which the Taliban — both Afghan and Pakistani — had a big hand, people found themselves having to travel via Afghanistan, the journey taking some 18 hours. Over a period of time, this route has also become increasingly insecure. More than 40 people have been killed so far on this route in different terror-related incidents.

In a bid to break the isolation, some well-off people from Parachinar introduced a jet service in 2008. Later, three more aircraft were added to make up the small fleet that carries passengers between upper Kurram and Peshawar. Under normal circumstances, one-way travel is Rs9,200 per person and at least 14 two-way flights, halted during bad weather, are undertaken daily. However, airfares and flight operations also depend on the situation on the ground. Some passengers say that airfares can reach Rs50,000 per person if all other land routes are closed.

In late 2008, Kurram’s Shia and Sunni tribes inked the Murree pact, following which the Thall-Parachinar road was reopened for traffic. Rival tribesmen exchanged visits and garlanded one another. This pleasant development brought down the number of passengers taking advantage of the air service. However, barely a month had passed when a bloody incident dashed hopes for durable peace. Two brothers travelling from Parachinar to Peshawar were killed and their relatives kidnapped when their vehicle came under attack. This deadly blow rendered the Murree accord ineffective and the key road was closed again.

The uncertainty on the ground boosted air travel, but within a month the road’s blockade was removed. This time the security forces took control of the land route. They were tasked with providing security to private convoys, usually transporting goods — and were authorised to charge Rs500-1,000 per traveller who generally had no recourse other than to travel on military vehicles. Yet, this could not keep criminal and militant elements away. In February 2010, a suicide attack on a private convoy killed 15 civilians. Kidnapping incidents in the agency also increased.

Such hurdles have created huge difficulties for civilians. Exorbitant fares at a time of inflation have increased economic woes in upper Kurram. In 2007, those journeying by road paid Rs200 to travel between Parachinar and Peshawar. After November 2007, Rs1,500 was charged for the same distance.

Protests were the natural outcome of this frustration. In August 2011, a convoy was delayed for many days due to militants’ threat. It prompted hundreds of students — who were returning to their respective educational institutes after Eid holidays — to create a law-and-order situation. Security forces were called in to control the protest and, subsequently, special convoys were arranged to transport students down country.

In such an atmosphere, the jet service appeared effective and the only alternative despite its hefty fares and the absence of proper ticketing facilities at Parachinar airport and a case of crash landing. PIA started flights to Parachinar in 1989, but these were closed in the early part of 2000. At one point, the political agent was informed about a plot to shoot down the aircraft.

Considering the situation there is a need to ensure safe, affordable air travel and to restart a regular PIA service for Kurram Agency, even as the state strives to secure road travel services for the citizens of Parachinar.

There was general relief recently when the Kurram peace jirga — representing 50 members each from the Sunni and Shia communities —apparently settled misgivings regarding the Murree accord. The Thall-Parachinar road has now been reopened with troops manning military check posts keeping an eye on the area while the resolution of other thorny issues like displacement and rehabilitation is supposed to be settled shortly.

What has also been a welcome development is that, unlike the past, this time the militants were not part of the consultations that led to the patch-up between the tribes. While this is no doubt a positive sign, the question that still looms is whether peace can indeed be given a chance without defanging the third party — the Taliban — which appears to be the most powerful stakeholder in the Kurram Agency conflict.

The writer teaches at Peshawar University.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Achieving Effective Public Relations, without New Media

Lusaka, Zambia

New Media signifies on-demand access to content on a variety of digital devices. New Media is interactive. Professor Kenny Makungu, a senior lecturer in the department of mass communication at The University of Zambia, defines new media as “a concept that encompasses the coming together of traditional media with the interactive power of computer and communications technology and computer-enabled consumer devices.”

Challenges of New Media in Zambia

As an Ohio University student studying journalism and public relations I have worked on multiple campaigns for clients such as the Miss Universe Organization, Cardinal Health, College Book Store, and Soul of Athens, to name a few. The clients and organizations I have worked with rely heavily on the use of ‘New Media’ to inform and engage their audiences. Understanding and utilizing New Media in public relations tactics is continually emphasized in academic classrooms, student organizations, and internship attachments. I have witnessed how valuable New Media, specifically social media, media entertainment, and networking sites including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, can be as a means to developing rich connections with the publics. While interning at the Miss Universe Organization I worked to develop content for a mobile messaging campaign, wrote speaking points used for tweets, managed online communities, and monitored social media outreach. At Ohio University, working in campus relations for Cardinal Health, a client of the student-run PR firm, ImPRessions, our team constantly uses Twitter to encourage live chats, spreading awareness of our Generation Rx campaign, and Facebook to gain attention for campus events.

Interning at GOMAN Advertising Ltd., an advertising firm in Lusaka, Zambia, posed new questions for me: are U.S. citizens too reliant on New Media as an effective public relations tactic? And, is the art of traditional media relations and community outreach fading? During my time at GOMAN I was assigned to create a public relations plan for Bonnita. Bonnita long life full cream milk is a product by Parmalat, Zambia’s largest producer and processor of milk and dairy products. I was excited to work on a PR plan for this product, however, reaching the intended audiences greatly limited my options for effective outreach. The product, released in Zambia in November 2011, is specifically crafted for Zambians with very low incomes. Milk is somewhat of a luxury product for Zambians, many cannot afford milk or do not have refrigerators to store milk and dairy products. Bonnita allows for impoverished Zambians to have access to quality, nutrient rich milk to feed their families, while keeping money in their pockets. Because it is long-life milk it can be stored at room temperature for up to three months from the date of production without getting spoilt.

Gaining Awareness without New Media

In order to spread awareness of Bonnita, I was assigned to develop innovative public relations tactics. If this product was for citizens in the United States, social media would be useful to help with community outreach. Just take a look at the well-established "Got Milk?" campaign Facebook page, with more than 58,000 "likes." Even those in the lowest income brackets in the United States still have some access to New Media. However, reaching those publics in Zambia requires a lot more thought. Ideas of using New Media can be thrown out completely. Due to lack of Internet infrastructure in Zambia, very few people access the Internet. Furthermore, the cost of Internet access is high. Internet connection is seen as a luxury. Social networking statistics show that Facebook penetration in Zambia is 1.35 percent of the country’s total population, and 19.89 percent among Internet users in Zambia.

A village, without any access to New Media, and only minimal access to electricity, that the awareness and consumption of Bonnita would be beneficial.

Inside one of the homes in the village. This home has no electricity, no running water, and certainly no access to New Media.

The lack of New Media in Zambia challenged me to focus and develop some “old school” tactics to reach out to the desired publics, effectively communicating the benefits Bonnita can provide to them. While developing a proposal for the product I gained a deeper understanding of effective public relations without relying on New Media, and the challenges of working in international media systems. After multiple brainstorming sessions, researching Zambian media outlets and consumption patterns, I was able to successfully develop enough tactics for a meaningful PR plan to present to Parmalat, on behalf on GOMAN.

Reviving Public Relations Fundamentals

Instead of relying on Facebook fan pages or a Twitter handle for Parmalat or Bonnita, I focused my plan on traditional print media, radio broadcasts, securing interview placements, and guerilla marketing. Painting advertisements on buildings, a common practice in Zambia, and Parmalat containers in compounds placed in the rural villages the product is made to serve, distributing handbills, and setting up interviews for Parmalat spokes persons at rural radio and news stations around Zambia, were just a few of the tactics outlined in the PR plan presented to Parmalat.

My internship in Zambia reminded me of the fundamental proponents of public relations and strategic communication. Media relations and community outreach is not going any where. Public relation practitioners in the U.S. should be conscious not to rely too heavily on New Media. The public relations industry should always keep in mind the importance of developing and maintaining meaningful relationships, with journalists, who pick up pitches, clients, whose products are worthy of our time to advocate for, and their publics, whom are the consumers of information and interpreters of messages. New Media is a great tool, but not one that should be so heavily relied on by public relations practitioners.

At GOMAN Advertising Ltd., with my work colleagues.

Andre and Capalo hard at work creating promotional materials for Parmalat in the studio at GOMAN.

Andre, a graphic designer at GOMAN, and I, inside the studio where all the advertisements and PR materials are produced.

Lauren Nolan is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession, about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.

The business of being wasteful

By: Molly Nocheck
In Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia may be a unique and picturesque place, but the beauty of the land is oftentimes hindered by an endless amount of trash that litters roadways, villages and markets. Though the abundance of trash is apparent, there seem to not be an effective government waste management system in place. In fact, I found it difficult to find trash reciprocals throughout Lusaka and the ones I did manage to find were usually overflown with litter. The biggest wake up call regarding litter that I experienced was seeing a pig eating trash at the busy Soweto Market.
The amount trash may have shocked me but it certainly did not surprise me.

In Zambia, plastic bags are given for every purchase. For instance, if I ordered food at a take out or fast food restaurant, I would be given a bag for my food and a separate bag for my drink. It is usually difficult to find a place to dispose of trash, even at developed shopping centers like Manda Hill.

Waste management systems?

After observing locals, I learned that trash is simply left wherever and will eventually be picked up. Unfortunately, a trash pick up system is not available to everyone in Zambia. The 2004 National Solid Waste Management Strategy for Zambia says,

“Waste components are usually mixed and dumped in places that are not designated for disposal. Much of this type of waste is generated from residential areas and at the moment less than 10% on average of residential areas in the country are serviced as regards waste management.”

This depressing statistic signals a need for change in Zambia's waste management mentality. Not only does an effective waste management system need to be put into place, but also a complete overhaul of the attitudes toward litter control. There needs to be more of an effort put into reducing, reusing, and recycling. The availability of rubbish bins could certainly be improved, as could the amount of bags being used.

A local perspective

The need of a waste management overhaul is emphasized in a recent article in the Times of Zambia which profiles residents' apprehensions about the current trash situation.. The article explains that the lack of an official waste management system leads to many residents to utilize private waste collectors. According to a Times of Zambia report by Lillian Banda, the use of illegal trash collectors is a potential threat to the environment, as trash is not being properly disposed of. Taking control of the waste in Zambia would lead to a healthier environmental future.

Molly Nocheck is one of 18 students from Ohio University who studied abroad in Zambia over winter intercession through the Institute for International Journalism.

She is a junior broadcast journalism major.

A Different (News) Culture

By Jenna Miller

In Lusaka, Zambia

During my time in Zambia, I interned with one of the only private broadcast news stations: MUVI TV. As these 3 weeks have flown by, I’ve taken notice of the differences between Zambian and American news operations. While there’s a plethora to choose from, I will only highlight the two main distinctions I have made that separates the job of a reporter in each country.

One Car Band

Whenever reporters go out in the field, they do not go by themselves. They pack a car with 2-3 reporters, a cameraman, and a driver. The driver takes everyone to each reporter’s story. As the designated reporter and cameraman do their thing, the rest just wait in the car. Some stories can even take more than an hour, but everyone still waits in the car for the reporter and cameraman to finish. Occasionally, they will drop a reporter off at a location if it does not require a camera, but for every other story everyone waits. It took awhile for me to get used to this concept.

As a journalism student, I’m told reporters these days are “one man bands.” The reporter does everything including his or her own camera work. But in Zambia, it’s more like a one car band. Not only do the reporters get a cameraman, but they also have other reporters on hand if they need help. It might not be the best use of resources or money to send 3 reporters out with a cameraman and a driver, but it definitely makes a reporter’s life less stressful and gives a few more people jobs.

Reporters Helping Reporters

MUVI TV is not the only news organization that sends teams of reporters out together. Not only that, but these different news teams actually work with one another. One of the reporters from MUVI told me that, if her friend at The Daily Mail gets a tip, he will call her right away to tell her about it and if she has heard anything. When they are out in the field at the same story, the group of reporters (from MUVI, MOBI, ZNBC, ZANIS, and all of the newspapers) joke around with one another and someone will even offer to go on a food run for the group. They will ask each other how their story is going and offer any information they think the other reporter might need.

This would never happen in the United States. Sure, reporters might sometimes develop a relationship with another reporter from another news organization, but not with every reporter from every news organization. The news industry in the United States is way too competitive and cut throat for reporters to work together like they do here in Zambia. Competition is the main reason why reporters are able to work together. The Zambian media do not really compete with one another. Each outlet has its own niche. Of course, each station wants to see what the other is covering, but in Zambia it is also about sharing news to ensure that they have not missed anything for their viewers.

Different Packages

While there are still extraneous differences I could mention (like 30+ second stand-ups or having only one computer with internet in the newsroom), I chose the above two because I think it truly creates a world of difference. I have found the job of a Zambian reporter to be more laid-back than that of American journalists. I also feel as if Zambian reporters have more passion for their work and show more enthusiasm for the stories they cover – even the dull stories than their U.S. counterparts. It is that laid-back atmosphere that keeps this enthusiasm and motivation instilled in Zambian reporters.

I believe reporters in both countries share the same ideals and passion for journalism, but the environment in which Zambian reporters work allows for more longevity in the media world. A lot of American reporters burn out within a couple years because of the stress of competition and meeting deadlines. In Zambia, competition is not an issue and deadlines rarely interfere with quality work. U.S. journalists should take note of the Zambian reporters. They might produce a slightly different package than most American journalists, but the passion and commitment to the public I think resonates with reporters from both countries.

Jenna Miller is one of 18 students from Ohio University, who studied abroad in Zambia over winter intercession through the Institute for International Journalism.

She is a senior broadcast journalism major with a certificate in the Global Leadership Center and a specialization in German.


By Chelsea Molder
In Lusaka, Zambia

During our time in Zambia we tweeted and shared our experiences we had. One trend that we are are starting is #zambiaproblems. For example Lindsay Boyle tweeted "My lion scratch hurts #zambiaproblems". This is not a problem to local Zambians as visitors but as new comers to the country, we found many things that differed from our everyday life back in the United States. Most of our “Zambia problems” are not real concerns or problems of the country but things as Americans we find different or troubling to us.

One of my #zambiaproblems was that everything and everyone is much slower or at a slower pace. We joked around and said we are on Zambian time, which is when you are running late you can just blame it on Zambian time. Everything was slower than we were used to in the United States.

But on a serious note, there are real problems that I noticed. One of the biggest for me was the amount of garbage and lack of disposal cans. I can understand how in some underdeveloped places and compounds they do not have the resources to properly dispose of the waste but even at nice public places and areas you will not find a place to put garbage.

Many of our “zambia problems” seemed crazy to the locals and were probably cultural differences or the way things are in Zambia. I am sure if they came to the United States they would find many “U.S. problems”.

Chelsea Molder is one of 18 Ohio University students studying abroad in Zambia with the Institute for International Journalism over Winter intercession.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A step back in time

By Lindsay Boyle

In Lusaka, Zambia

For some U.S. citizens, some aspects of Zambian culture and development may seem immature, inappropriate or simply ignorant.

Zambia ~50 years post-independence

Though the United States is far from a global leader in education, Zambia is even worse than the U.S.; only 1.5 percent of their GDP is put toward education, according to The World Factbook, While the average American will attend public schooling for about 16 years and complete high school, the average Zambian is likely to go to school for just 7 years, receiving only an elementary level education.

At some “schools,” such as Shampande Middle Basic School, classrooms consist of nothing more than makeshift chairs composed of piles of bricks scattered under a tree that some children have to walk 10 to 15 miles (16.5 to 25 km) to get to*.

The disparity between the developed and undeveloped areas of Zambia is huge. In the heart of Lusaka, there is electricity, running water, limited Internet access, modern architecture and relatively better road infrastructure than the rural areas. Just on the outskirts of Lusaka as well as in more rural areas, however, little or none of the aforementioned basic infrastructure exists.

Ideology-wise, many Zambians are nowhere near accepting homosexuality and the like as acceptable lifestyles. In some areas, women are still considered lesser than men and are responsible for nearly all “household chores.” In Zambia, that term does not refer to simple cleaning and cooking, but also hard labor tasks such as food and water gathering, which often require spending many hours and traveling many miles.

Some U.S. citizens have expressed a desire to change the way countries in Africa, including Zambia, think about and approach the world, as though they are hopelessly wrong and behind the times.

Honestly, visiting Zambia is like taking a step back in time—the country just gained independence in 1964.

American ~50 years post-independence

Imagine the U.S. only 47 years after it gained independence, in the 1820s. Infrastructure was poor—Native American trails used where roads were not yet existent, plus canals and railroads were just being built.

Technology was not yet very advanced. Inventions such as telescopes, railroads (with horse-drawn cars), and typewriters did not exist until the end of the decade.

In the early 1820s, people in the U.S. were still feeling the effects of the Panic of 1819, a depression that occurred after the economic boom that followed the War of 1812 ended. The U.S. economy was based primarily on agriculture, and thus many people were merely poor farmers.

Society was dominated by white males—women weren’t able to vote or own property and were expected to focus on raising children and performing chores. African Americans (and sometimes other minorities) were condemned to slavery and unequal treatment in many aspects of life. Homosexuality was not considered an acceptable practice.

Even in the U.S., there was a time when the ways of life and thinking were much different than they are now. Becoming an industrialized egalitarian country is a process that takes time. Many critical developments in ideology, technology and infrastructure—including labor laws, methods of communication and inventions—did not occur until the early 1900s, more than one hundred years after gaining independence.

Before U.S. citizens try to tell Zambians the correct things to believe and ways to act, they should take note that post-independence Zambia is so far without any major political and ethno-political conflicts—an attribute the U.S. cannot claim.

Moving forward

It may seem slightly difficult to compare Zambia and the U.S. since they reached independence in different ways. However, they are similar in that they both broke away from colonial rule and were left with a lot of land to develop and opportunity for technological and ideological improvements.

It is apparent that technology, for example, is beginning to ease its way into the Zambian culture, especially in places such as Lusaka. It is already more Westernized than myself and many of my colleagues expected it to be and is likely to continue developing further. With technological improvement, better infrastructure and ideological open-mindedness usually follow.

Although some U.S. citizens would like to come from a point of further development and deliver some kind of revelation to Zambians, they need to realize that things do not work that way. For a truly flourished nation, Zambians will have to grow and learn at their own pace.

Even the U.S. is not yet an ideal nation. U.S. citizens have made their fair share of mistakes along the way and are still learning not to discriminate based on race, gender, orientation, socioeconomic status, religion and other characteristics.

Some people and nations relentlessly strive to develop and to become free from donor-dependency. Yes, there are still nations that seem to be underdeveloped in comparison to the U.S., but given time, some of them will get there.

*An organization called Fountain of Life donated 100 desks to Shampande after hearing of its condition, but other schools in similar situations have not been as fortunate.

Lindsay Boyle is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession, about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.

She is a junior online journalism major with a minor in psychology.