Zambia News and Information Services, ZANIS, is a government organization that is charged with the goal of providing news for all of the provinces and districts in Zambia. They describe themselves as “public relations for the government” with the mission of informing citizens about issues related to government affairs while also portraying those in power in a more positive light. During my internship, I was able to get a firsthand account of this self-proclamation.
Part of the Team
Interning for ZANIS was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was immediately considered a staff member and given the chance to cover and film events as well as write news reports and edit videos that will be aired nationwide. I have never interned for a government institution but it would typically not only be difficult to attain an internship as an international student in the United States but even if awarded the opportunity the tasks given would be trivial, such as fetching coffee and filing papers. It was refreshing to feel like a “real reporter” and actually contribute to a news outlet that covered issues for the entire country.
Acquiring New Skills
In the three short weeks that I worked for ZANIS, I learned how to operate a video camera, edit and write for broadcast. As a magazine major, I was introduced to these skills in a few of my courses but never given the opportunity to put these skills to use. I attended events in honor of 16 days of activism against gender violence, which is celebrated internationally and helped to compile a report. I also was allowed VIP access at the airport and was able to film President Sata’s first international departure. Aside from learning to perfect skills through experience I also value the connections that I have made with the ZANIS team.
ZANIS is a unique organization in that the reporters gather news that is then used or aired at many different radio stations, television programs and newspapers throughout the country but the shocking fact is that the majority of “employees” are actually unpaid interns. The situation at ZANIS is just a small example of the struggles of journalists in Zambia to find work, work that pays, to be more specific. Journalists in the U.S. work to get paid and reveal the truth to viewers but what is the passion behind working in this field if the whole truth cannot always be disclosed in fear of losing a job and on top of the pressure to please your “boss,” you are not on payroll? The passion comes from the hope that they can spark the flame that burns down the current structure that’s restricting the press, and from those ashes, bringing to life a true freedom of expression creating an entire new world of Journalism with greater opportunities.
Tylah Deal, magazine major, is one of 18 Ohio University students studying abroad in Zambia with the Institute for International Journalism over Winter intercession.