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Press Freedom in Zimbabwe

Free press in Zimbabwe is under fire attack by its government. The country is in its seventh year of economic depression and is experiencing hyper-inflation, over 1,200 percent a year. It has only two remaining free newspapers--those not directly controlled by the government.

I found two articles on this topic, one in the Washington Post and another in the New Zealand Herald. The Washington Post focused on a specific event that happened recently while the New Zealand Herald took a more general approach, a story of the culmination of a lot of little stories about the degradation of freedom of the press in Zimbabwe.

The challenge with this story was the recent history of Zimbabwe, and how that is involved with the current news. Craig Timberg of the Washington Post managed to sum up the recent history, and to paint a picture of the problems in that country at the moment, with key details like their rate of inflation and the state their government is in. He also managed to encompass the wider story of the safety of journalists all over the world, by including the organization Reporters Without Borders. He mentioned the record number of journalist killed or arrested worldwide, making this part of a world problem in the larger social context. This story also made the issue of freedom of the press more interesting because it dealt directly with a death threat--a bullet mailed to the editor of a paper that published an unflattering political cartoon of the military. This international perspective made the story more relevant to the US audience in a more obvious way, even though the story should be seen as relevant be itself.

The Ed Ceasar of the New Zealand Herald took a wider perspective of this story, focusing on the many number of things that have been chipping away at the free presses in Zimbabwe. He took a national focus, instead of the wider international context. New Zealand has a lot of Zimbabwean exiles, and many of them are still concerned with what is going on in their country, and many still have friends or relatives back there. So the more focused approach is relevant. Ceasar also does a good job of summarizing a lot of recent problems with the press.


Very interesting look at two very different takes on the situation in Zimbabwe. It's a legitimate comparison although the two stories were published 11 days apart.

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