Analysis: MUMBA MWANSA
MAY 3 is a day that has been set aside for journalists to reflect on their profession and to see how best the profession can be improved for the best. Well, as we commemorate this special day, I would like to remind and educate our readers on the journey of Zambia’s most preferred newspaper, Zambia Daily Mail, and a snippet of the production process of this newspaper.
In 1960, the now state-owned newspaper was founded as a privately-owned one by the late Alexander Scott and Richard Hall, and was financed by David Astor, an editor at the London Observer. The three worked together and established a company called African Mail Limited, which began to publish the African Mail newspaper.
On February 23, 1960, the first publication of the African Mail was rolled out as a 24-page weekly tabloid with the aim of giving wide publicity to African nationalists, who were both in Zambia and across Africa.
According to Francis Kasoma, the newspaper had started at a time when the spirit of independence was sweeping through Africa for the first time, hence the African Mail played a pivotal role in stimulating this favour in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and the whole Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It dedicated a full page to telling Africans what the other countries on the continent had achieved and were about to achieve by way of political emancipation.
In a space of about two years, the African Mail’s circulation almost doubled from 13,000 to 24,000 because it was not only circulated in Northern Rhodesia, but the whole Federation. This made the founders change its name to Central African Mail.
The Central African Mail has been said to be a newspaper which only wanted to support the positive aspects of African nationalism and assured the whites that “they had nothing to fear from an imminent African government”. And to date, the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper does support unity and oneness in its reportage.
Because of the way the Central African Mail carried its stories, the Northern Rhodesian government saw the feelings expressed in this newspaper as those reflective of all Africans and that it played a role of “safety valve”. Therefore, the government informed the citizens of its plan to publish a newspaper, which was to provide a platform for expression of free thought.
In May 1965, Government announced that it was going to buy the Central African Mail from its founder financier, Astor, and on August 6, 1965, the first publication under new ownership was produced, though this also marked the last publication of the Central African Mail.
And now the newspaper was renamed Zambia Mail, which was under the tutorship of Kelvin Mlenga, who was succeeded by William Dullforce, a white man. On July 15, 1969, the Zambia Mail became a daily newspaper as opposed to being a weekly publication, and in 1970, the publication was known as Zambia Daily Mail – a name it is still proudly known by.
Since its inception, the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper has been run under the motto: ‘Without Fear or Favour’, as it has been a publication that disseminates information as it happens and it has reached the remotest parts of the country in helping to bring about nationwide development.
This newspaper has evolved from being published in a tabloid format to that of a broadsheet, and on October 1, 2014, it set the trend by being the first and only newspaper to be published in the Berliner format in Zambia. The only other Berliner newspapers are found in South Africa and the United Kingdom, among others.
Since 1963, the Zambia Daily Mail has been led by 15 managing directors or managing editors, as they were previously called, with the current one being Nebat Mbewe, who is deputised by Chapadongo Lungu. This team has helped shape the newspaper to become the best publication in the country as it is the preferred choice for latest and informative news.
The newspaper has transformed for the best ever since its inception and it is among the most trending and bestselling newspapers in Zambia – thanks to its dedicated and hard-working staff.
The Zambia Daily Mail has also streamlined to a weekly sister publication, Sunday Mail, a children’s fortnight pull-out, Young Mail, and a weekly entertainment publication, Weekend Mail.
I cannot end my article, especially on the day we are commemorating World Press Freedom Day, without giving a brief description of how the newspaper is run on a daily basis.
The chain of production of the newspaper, of course excluding the tasks of our marketing, financial, administration and transport experts, begins with photographers and reporters, so to say. The vigilant reporters and photographers, who have a nose for news, get on the ground to source for current affairs, which they turn into stories through writing and by use of pictures, and submit them to their desk editors.
When desk editors receive the stories from the reporters, they edit and begin to rank them in order of prominence, relevance and proximity, among other journalistic factors, before the stories are submitted to sub-editors.
The sub-editors then have a task to edit stories, do the page layout and design the newspaper in readiness for publication. The newspaper works hard at achieving minimal to zero errors with the experts in production, who have the duty to counter-check for facts and grammar, among other duties.
When all is in place, the newspaper is then ready for publication and it is then processed through our state-of-the-art machines with the guidance of the printing experts.
With coordination and hard work, the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper is and will still be the preferred choice of publication in the country as it keeps setting the trend.
Happy World Press Freedom Day to all journalists as we work on bettering the profession by abiding by our ethical principles.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sub-editor.
Analysis: MUMBA MWANSA