Of The Gutenberg Editor: Review

The Gutenberg Editor is coming!!!!!!

Gutenberg is coming

WordPress 5.0 is rolling out, soooooon, and the Gutenberg Editor will be the new default editor and here’s why you should be paying attention, about 30% of the internet is powered by WordPress it just might redefine web publishing.

Normally when you create and edit posts it looks like this:

The Classic Editor

The Gutenberg Editor will look like this:

Gutenberg editor

The Gutenberg Editor:

What is Gutenberg, Who is Gutenberg and I’ll even do you one better Why is Gutenberg?

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is an editor that is poised to revolutionise WordPress customizations and the “effortless” laying out and creating media rich content (with or) without the knowledge of complicated coding skills

Who is Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg whom the editor is named after was a 15th century printer and publisher who introduced the movable type printing system that allowed for feasible mass production of printed material which ignited the printing revolution in Europe.

Why Gutenberg

Its hoped that the Gutenberg Editor will similarly re-invent the web, creating a digital revolution which puts the power of creativity back into the hands of the creatives without expert code use.

Re-imagine the internet

“The web up until this point has been confined to some sort of rectangular screen. But that is not how it’s going to be. Gutenberg has the potential of moving us into the next time.” Morten Rand Hendriksen

How it works

You create customizable blocks, for your content which you can manipulate individually to build up your post.

Gutenberg blocks

My Thoughts

I am a firm believer of the ideal that if something works then DON’T FIX IT.

Having really gotten used to the old editor I am comfortable with it I know where everything is and how to create my posts, the editor has updated before but never so drastically.

Just because something works doesnt mean mean it cant be improved

Comfort is an enemy of progress, so in my last couple of posts I have been trying to figure my way around the Gutenberg editor and here’s my journey so far:

First Impressions

I love the idea of the being able to play around with different aspects of a post, its reminiscent of using a Image Editing Software which has layers or groups which you can manipulate individually.

You can change formatting of a particular block; from the background colour to the text colour and resize without affecting the format of whole document, and it even notifies you if the colour scheme you choose might not accommodate everyone.

Colour picker

You can also transform each block into a different type of block transform blocks Gutenberg

The Challenges I Faced

The editor feels like it was mostly designed as a tool to fuse together mixed media content into a post then as an afterthought they remembered about the writer type of people.

Usually I create my posts in a notepad or document application and then I simply copy and paste into the Classic editor (adding images where necessary) than click [publish]

When I do the same thing suddenly every header and every paragraph and every image is on a block of its own and and minor formatting things suddenly become well not harder just you have to do significantly more clicking selecting blocks and navigating around them,

And where is the word count? I can normally see how much I have written easily by a quick glance without breaking a stride in my writing now I have to stop writing and click the content structure button though the document outline feature is a nice touch. Document outline

I also noticed you cannot change colour and size of text selectively inside a block you can only change for all the words in the block

I couldn’t failed to find the underline function? Shouldnt it be there beside  Bold and Italics

The image uploader doesnt seem to have that insert via url feature and when resizing photos I had gotten used to seeing the dimensions of the picture superimposed as you resized now looks like you just eyeball it and think yeah looks about right……

Unexpected Good Thing

While scrolling through the default blocks I found one with The Classic Editor and it works almost exactly as it has always been now I can breathe easy, and here’s a tip for all those who have been worried they wont know what to do once Gutenberg becomes the default editor well simply use the classic WordPress editor block.

search for blocks

Classic editor gutenberg

Also even if Gutenberg becomes default the people of WordPress support say you can always switch editors and put back the classic your default, so rest easy

You Are Welcome

~B

The Gutenberg Editor is still work in progress and yet to be launched, giving feedback helps make it better, if you have used it how has your experience been if not would you try it?

For an interactive demo tour  click here: GUTENBERG

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Of Mainstream Media: is it dying?

Is Mainstream Media dying…. And did The New Media deal it a mortal blow?

Is Journalism dying, killed by social media
“The Medium has compromised The Media”

A sound-bite from Takura Zhangazha whilst speaking on the role The Media on the upcoming Zimbabwean Presidential elections and part of an analysis of previous 2013 elections, at a Medial Alliance of Zimbabwe conference; where it was noted there has been a marked increase in social media usage and citizen journalism. He defined The Medium as being tools, technology; the internet social media……..

Well one cannot lay blame on tools, they say “guns don’t kill people…. ” (but then who ever came up with that phrase was from a time before anyone ever imagined someone would invent drones and weaponise them or the strides in Artificial Intelligence; before the future spelt out in Hollywood movies was even remotely possible, the machines rise…. but I digress)

Corrupted Media

The DNA of The New Media

Mainstream media has had gaps in its coverage, marginalising some aspects in favour of profitable stories, political mileage and sometimes simply some sort of principle and code. These gaps have been filled by new media; which allows for diverse practitioners to exploit the ease at which information spreads, (going viral), abiding by almost no code, ungoverned and ungovernable, algorithms defining trending topics; requiring little or no verification; mostly for the likes; shares retweets, the real time interaction and the entertainment value…

Social Media can break the news before almost any media house, first with the news, because anyone anywhere with a smartphone and an internet connection is a pseudo-journalist…

When traditional media houses try to out-compete new media, they wind up losing their journalistic integrity, (and their credibility). Is it a surprise no one takes mainstream media seriously anymore, not pointing any fingers, but when a head of state takes to social medal  to label a media house as fake news………

If traditional media houses treat new media and online content creation as their “unscrupulous” competition whom they need to fight for their place in the sun then …… mainstream media will die.

The herald

The logic makes sense; but in this age of The Internet Of Things, where even your fridge can go online; this is how you lose a battle with new media. You leave a space and someone or something will take your place; like a game musical chairs when the music stops, you find your seat has been taken……. You are Out.

online piracy

Piracy/plagiarism is a real problem and another challenge all together. I have Google searched and found snippets of my words unattributed to me, it hurts…. I mean if you ask me nicely I would let you, so long as you referenced back to me, is that too much to ask for? When a solution comes do let me know.

Traditional media houses need to adapt and embrace more of the new media; define new guidelines and core values with regards to interacting with social media instead of treating it as an amusing spectacle like children running around in adults clothes pretending to be journalists; useful only to get hits and views. It is an instrument a powerful one, capable of transforming the world as we know it, but a tool’s is utility just like any weapon is dependent on its wielder.

Evian babies wearing oversized clothes

RESPECT

The main problem with social media is “the proliferation of fake news” a phrase I have heard over and over again. But it’s mostly a matter of user education, people must need to learn a culture of not spreading unverified information or at least questioning and cross-checking facts. Sometimes even a quick Google Search could prove to you that a celebrity is not dead or how today is a not a unique day whose star alignment will not happen again in the next 456321 million years…..

Maybe that’s what mainstream media has to do; apply expert skill-set to interpret trends, analysing stories and issues raised in new media packaging them in the way they should be, debunking fake news and harnessing the potential reach of online influencers; reviewing new media the way it already reviews traditional publishing houses. On social media everyone to a degree is a social commentator or analyst adding their two cents to the narrative and with elections coming up, that space is going to be real chaotic  real fast in a way that could change electoral process dynamics.

If I owned a media house…………….

~B

 

Photo Credit: Evian Water Babies Digital Agency Network

 

Of Love and Life in The Digital Age

You are familiar with the Three Mystic Apes also known as the Three Wise Monkeys:

See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No evil

See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil

Mizaru, with eyes covered, sees no evil; Kikazaru, with covered ears, hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering mouth, speaks no evil….

Well there is fourth whose wisdom and mysticism is somewhat debatable:

monkey with a phone  He sees nobody, he hears nobody and he speaks to nobody……. and yet on the internet the world is his oyster……

I always take what I read on the internet with a pinch of salt because much as it is a fun creative space, reducing physical distance into nothing more than a click on a screen, it seems to warp reality as we perceive it……

The more our phones capture reality, each new model with better camera, higher number of pixels and a bigger  screen with high definition screen; the less we actually experience it. It seems we have become a generation that seeks validity and relevance by the number of likes and retweets we get online, outsourcing even our conscience to online personas.

Sometimes it seems like people go out of their way to post pictures or share video clips from their lives to prove how they have made it in life or how awesome their dream holiday is even how perfect their relationship is. Almost as if they need the world’s approval to convince themselves that they have indeed arrived. Well maybe you have made it, but as for the rest of the easily swayed world who try to compete every second of their lives to a single moment, captured in a well-timed photo, disappointment awaits you…

Valentine’s has come and gone; with its commercialised; over hyped up trimmings, and of course throw in smart phones and the internet and suddenly people out to show how their better half is best; better than anyone else’s. Some seem to date simply so they can show off. I am sure a relationship is not a competition and Relationship Olympics are not an actual Olympic event but hey people are out there winning the Boyfriend Olympics and the Girlfriend Olympics on the internet.

Relationship Olympics

How do you stay in your lane if you want to Keep Up With The Internet Citizens who star in their own Reality Shows right on our internet timelines.

I read an interesting quote along the lines of :

“If you are going to do good deeds/charity work leave your camera behind”

I wonder if he knew, Alexander Graham Bell, back when he invented the telephone how much control his invention would have over our lives

The next time you are outside and happen to see the perfect sunset don’t take out your phone and take a picture just look at it until the light fades away…

sunset

~B

 

PS why wait only for Valentine’s Day to show how much someone means to you anyway? Live every day like its Valentine’s day.

The fourth monkey is called Post No Evil

Post No evil

 

 

photo Credit: Freaking News

 

Of Juice In A Wine Glass

Hello Sunday

If you were hanging out with me we would be having juice in wine glasses, because we are sophisticated, yeah step out of the ordinary

Juice in a wine glass

How has your week been? Good I trust.

Whats been happening in my neck of the woods, lets see the interim president finally announced his new cabinet… it pretty much looks like this:

metal cabinet

The newly appointed minister of finance introduced his budget for 2018 I don’t know much about economic policies or how governments run but seems decent enough budget considering working with what they have the bulk of the money is the wage bill for civil servants, living a runaway budget deficit in the region of close to 2 billion. I guess they are banking on a bail out by someone or that the economy really turns around…..

The irony though, government plans to retire civil servants over the age of 65, yet the average ages of the cabinet ministers is 65-70 years, the minister of youth is 68 and the president is 75 years old….

Sometimes you are the change you wish to see.

Moving along I know its Christmas when an evening walk in Harare’s first street is a burst of Christmas lights and Africa Unity Square is riot of colour wishing you a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year

Christmas Lights Africa Unity square

On Friday in a colourful event dubbed Light Up Harare The Mayor Officially switched on the Sunshine City’s Christmas lights (well they had been on for almost weeks now but now its official)

Light Up Harare Christmas

Let the Christmas festivities commence Season’s Greetings

I hear its snowing across the globe on the other side of the world, stay safe, I am curious about snow, having never seen it before; does it feel like ice in the refrigerator, is it cold (don’t answer that) when it lands on your eyelashes does it tickle? Can you eat it what does it taste like, I do know you should not eat the yellow snow ha!

Gotta love the internet it brings the world to the tip of my fingers…

Speaking of the internet, Tuesday 5 December was the day the internet stopped working well they fixed it eventually but from  11.30 to 1700 major internet service providers  well could not provide the internet……

A tractor ploughing a field in South Africa accidentally cut the main fibre cable which supplies the bulk of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications through Liquid Telecoms including the backup redundancy line and in an unrelated coincidence at about the same time a Harare municipal worker in Kuwadzana also cut the fibre cable which links ADSL provider Telone to Botswana and the world …………

*insert deep in thought emoji*

That’s a whole lot of cable cutting right there, I mean aren’t they buried safely beneath the ground I have seen them dig up our drive way to bury them (read here) Don’t they markers or something to warn people *insert appropriate emoji*

Also they really seriously need to work on their backup lines.

Unless of course as some people suggest, the whole thing was a government exercise to test if they can shutdown the internet, I wouldnt put it past them they have done it before, (or so we suspect) in a move to derail a social media campaign that was mobilising people to carry flags and ShutDown Zimbabwe, they even put up some legislation criminalising the carrying and selling of flags without prior authority. Maybe they shut down the internet to install some cyber monitoring  protocols? Conspiracy conspiracy, too bad even if they did and we asked them they would probably deny it (I would too if I was the government)

An investigation is underway to find out the what really happened the day the internet died stay tuned…….

On the upside since I had no internet on the day and couldn’t figure out what to do with myself I ended up finishing reading a book I started and have been neglecting and I also rewatched the movies Moana and Trolls  yes I love animated flicks I am forever young expect reviews coming soonest….

Dear maintenance crews be more careful with our cables hey

Sincerely

~B

Of Coffee And Shiny New Lessons

If you were having coffee with me we would be trying out my shiny new kettle……

Shiny Africa .jpg

I would thank you for visiting and let you know that you are like my shiny new kettle, with the wonky instructions manual, hard to understand but absolutely worth it……

instructions

if you can make sense of this…..

In case you are curious and wondering what happened to the old kettle…. I tried to fix it and I failed… I also learnt a few things too…

old kettle.jpg

You know when an appliance comes with the warning tag No User Serviceable Parts, what they mean is Do Not Attempt To Fix This by Yourself unless you are trained professional but I still insist on taking it as a personal challenge……

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that there are lots of things I have learnt, which is my fancy way of telling you that I may or may not have made some mistakes in life….

Things I learned not to do in life……..

Never Ever:

  • Check the temperature of water in a kettle by dipping hand into the kettle….
  • Touch hot stove tops……..
  • Kick at snakes venomous or otherwise, in fact, snakes should just stay away from me please and thank you …….
  • Poke wasps nests with a stick……..
  • Play in traffic……..
  • Look for shoes under the bed with a candle…
  • Super glue fingers together…
  • Lick the inside metal of the freezer…
  • Put metal objects in electricity outlets….
  • Lick electric wires to taste check if there is power….
  • Look under a lawnmower to see why it’s making so much noise……….
  • NOT Check the ceiling height and clearance for low hanging chandeliers and any other ornaments before tossing a toddler into the air over your head….
  • And when I write a book to check for errors extensively before I have it published
  • and lastly……
    never……
    ever …….. look inside a lady’s handbag….

If you were having coffee with me I won’t tell you what I saw, but I have learnt my lesson, curiosity kills nine lived cats and I have only one.

How has your week been? I hope your weekend is going great.

If you were coffee with me, I would tell you that I have been following social media commentary on a book titled From A to B written by South African TV personality Bonang.

http3a2f2fo-aolcdn-com2fhss2fstorage2fmidas2f676f73b9553b604b31076d58f73c4e912f2055350062f20482648_498835333801519_1022825128439840768_n

Her book has been making a buzz because of typos and grammar problems. It is kind of weird to note most of the people who have suddenly become book critics well havent read the book but have just seen the same screenshot(s) from the book circulating on the interweb and have formed opinions and made remarks of not only the book, but the author as well, as if one wakes up and decides what typos should I make in my book today. Ironically enough I spotted a tweet or two with grammar atrocities busy making fun of Bonang’s typos……

While I am not excusing the author, I mean one owes it to the people who are going to spend their hard earned money on you to create something worth their time and the publishing companies ought to do their due diligence instead of damage control

What do you think?

~B

 

 

photocredit Bonang Instagram

 

Of Blogging Surveys

A blogging survey: Afrobloggers

  1. How long have you been running your current blog(s) for?

Hmmmm well according to my archives my first post is from September 2013…… it seems like a lot but if you factor in teething problem; life getting in the way because life has a habit of happening, and some procrastination effectively I would say I have been fairly consistent in maybe past 2 years.

  1. What is the purpose of your blog?

To be written. Ha! Or maybe to be read or fusion of the two with greater part being simply to be written… I never had grand designs to change the world or push any agendas maybe the purpose of this blog is to find its purpose….. Or maybe it already has and I just haven’t figured it out.

  1. How many blogs do you follow?

A lot because I don’t know where you check to find out.

  1. How frequently do you post on your blog and how do you share your posts?

I usually try to have at least one #CoffeeShare post a week and a random post inbetween them. I share via Pinterest, Twitter sometimes Facebook and if it’s a post I want particular people to read I will email the link even text them if I know their numbers… sometimes Its Magic; I post & Wish

  1. Do you have any writing rituals? A particular time you write, music you listen to, quirky habits to get in the zone?

I prefer to write in a darkened room drapes closed lights off, preferably at night, because I am a nocturnal creature; not forgetting a coffee mug full of herbal lemon tea accompanied by Music by FreshlyGroundSA or Enya sometimes a playlist with The Script, Maroon 5, Nickelback, Evanesence, Linkin Park

  1. Do you have a special time set aside for blogging related activities, or whenever, whenever you get a moment and internet

No particular time, if I have a moment and if I have internet…. Its tea time.

  1. How often do you check on your blog?

as often as one checks the time, especially after I have just had a post published; I keep an eye on the notifications. I get email alerts for comments to my blog and I try to respond to all of them … eventually and when I get the chance also check that person’s blog in return, fair’s fair.

  1. Laptop or phone?

Both I sync draft notes on laptop to phone so I can easily edit On The Go.

  1. Do you take the time to read and discover new blogs? How much time do you spend reading other blogs?

I spend a significant amount of time scouting my reader screen, I have found that I have had to group the blogs I read into lists so I know which to go back to for what like poetry or stories, lifestyle, and some for potential ideas for future posts for my blogs, and potential guest post material

  1. How much internet data do you use in a typical day or week. (is it personal, school or work internet? Wi-Fi or mobile data)

On average 1 gig a day on personal Wi-Fi (when I have only mobile data I usually post via email since its easier on my data than trying to load the WordPress site or running the WordPress App)

Bonus question: If your blog was movie what which one would it be?

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

~B

Thats my truth today but tomorrow might be different every day I re-imagine myself.

 

 

source: Emma Edit

Of Coffee With Winnie

winnie mug.jpg

If you were having coffee with me, I would say

“Knock knock”

You would ask

“Who is there?”

I would say

“Arent”

You would ask

“Arent who?”

I would reply

“Arent you glad its not another covfefe joke”

I would laugh and laugh until tears welled in my eyes and you would laugh too maybe with or at me, but I do hope with me.

Please stick around and have hot beverage, the weather is a touch cold, in these parts. Winter is here! As a friend from the twitterverse Phroetiq phrased it:

I no longer believe in seasons.

I believe in days.

And today is winter

If you were having coffee with me I would let you in on a secret project of mine. Once upon a time a few days back, we went to a local prison to make a tiny donation; (that you need not bother yourself about) but as we left, I had a lovely chat with the Prison Chaplain and we told him if there was anything we could help with and it was within our means he should not hesitate to let us know.

He didnt…

He asked if we could somehow organize for him to have a bible or two for the inmates he would be extremely grateful. I told him “We would see…” you know that standard response you make when you agreeing but not entirely to something, without commitment. Upon further conversation I was shocked to discover that of the 700 approx inmate population not a single bible was currently available for them to use, that they have to wait to until Sunday to hear The Word…..

As the chaplain put it they are trying to rehabilitate prisoners and save their souls, because as he sees it, people commit crime because they lost apart of themselves to the darkness, and he is trying to the best of his ability to restore that which was lost……

**in a related fact about a month ago 120 inmates got baptized.  

This had me thinking that the bible or two we could find would simply be a drop in the ocean and without even a second thought we made a donation of our personal bibles, I dont really use mine; before you get all curious, allow me to rephrase I have a bible app on my phone and am not in dire need….. I also reached out to the friends who live on the internet:

In the past week I received 50 bibles and another friend is arranging for another 20, and I am also working with several other people who have said we’ll see…. Fingers crossed

He asked me for one or two I found 70 with a possibility for more….

When you reach out… sometimes someone reaches back

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you if by any chance you came across the trend that had people declaring how shocked they were to realise that their childhood was a lie, because Winnie The Pooh was female….. WAIT  WHAT???

Winnie The Pooh

Winnie The Pooh

You know nothing Jon Snow

Yes Winnie was female…..

The real Winnie though; the one the character by A.A. Milne was based upon, was a real bear; female and Canadian. The bear was named after the city of Winnipeg, the hometown of the vet who bought her as a cub. Winnie eventually ended up at London Zoo; where she enthralled young Christopher Robin so much, he named his own teddy bear Winnie after her. Christopher Robin’s father was none other than the author A.A. Milne and the rest as they is a story of honey loving bear and adventures with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood….

The bear from the cartoons and books is most assuredly male and your childhood is perfectly safe (for now) and you did not experience any gender identification problems… You are welcome.

If you were having coffee with me I’d iterate  what I said last week Constant Vigilance; a quick Google search could would have revealed this “truth” explained in a tell all children’s picture book by Canadian author Lindsay Mattick published in 2015 Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Thanks for dropping by and much appreciated

~B

PS I just read on the death of actor Adam West who played the first Batman I remember watching growing up… and in honour of him this joke from opening title theme song:

dave-collinson-nana-nana-batman1

nana nana nana nana Batman

And if you you would like to get in touch with me about my bible project you can email me  below:

Batman Image Credit Dave Collinson

Winnie the Pooh story Huffington post

Of Covfefe With Me

Covfefe Title.jpg

If you were having covfefe with me, you would be asking me whether there was a typo in my title and if not; what type of beverage is covfefe? Well I can assure you, there is no typo and that you can not buy it from your local coffee shop.

I don’t think you can buy at from anywhere, for now, but I am sure if you give it a bit of time, in a couple days, some barista somewhere will be serving you rainbow covfefe which looks like the sun set in it with an olive skewered by a toothpick bobbing around leisurely.

Covfefe nobody knows what it means but it’s provocative…

It all started because President of the United States tweeted the following:

Donald.jpg

And the free world went crazy trying to figure out if it was a simple typo, (Twitter really really needs an edit button) or if his Excellency (that’s how we refer to our president) suffered anything from a heart attack, a brain seizure to tweeting in his sleep; some say he was overwhelmed by the sudden urge to have coffee in the middle of tweeting and its certainly something that happens to beerst of us

**pause to sip beer**

Where were we; oh yes and some are convinced it was a clandestine message understood by only a few elite; a conspiracy theory of Robert Ludlum meets John le Carré proportions; involving multinational agent provocateurs and maybe even aliens…

Covfefe Identity.jpgSeveral hours later the curious tweet got DELETED and replaced with the one below:

Meaning of Covfefe.jpg

And then there was Hillary:

Hillary.jpg

Its all much ado about cofveve….., it still hasn’t quite been defined yet but I am pretty sure before the year ends the word will exist in the updated dictionary. Why wouldn’t it be; if emoticons can make it; The tears of joy emoji was oxford the word of the year 2015

face-with-tears-of-joy-1

So far the Webster’s dictionary has no words for it….

But here is a few choice definition from The Urban Dictionary:

Urban.jpg

If you were having covfefe with me; I would tell you that you ought to be careful what you post on social media, the internet is unforgiving, and it never forgets…. (and people take screenshots)

I wonder if he had caught a vision of the future; when he transcribed and sent the first Morse Code message, Samuel Morse upon completion of his invention The Telegraph;

“What Hath God Wrought?”

Indeed; because if you were having covfefe with me, I would ask you, why do people revel in starting and spreading Fake News; where they not hugged enough as babies?

And it doesn’t help that we seem so eager to share we find without pausing for a second to verify, maybe its because I am a storyteller and as we say “the storyteller never lies”  we may get creative with the narrative, embellishing the tale with condiments of a good story…..  but see that’s why we have disclaimers….. and that’s why the only story I believe is the one I am telling….

Today is the first of June, Happy New Month…

If you were having covfefe with me; I would tell you I  got forwarded the following message by five different people in my contact list who are totally unrelated… maybe you have received it too:

IMG-20170531-WA0000.jpg

 

It’s a cute message, isn’t it? but, I didn’t forward it to anyone and why….

Certainly not because I would not have been unique in being a copy and paste…

today is 152nd day of the year the are still 215 days left in the year.

This greeting is a month too early

What if I had forwarded it to every one of my contacts and they forward it to each of their contacts, and suddenly you have a whole bunch of misinformed people…. This is exactly how fake news thrives and spreads, we blindly accept what read, we will learn eventually …. in the words of Mad-Eye Moody to his Defence Against Dark Arts class “Constant Vigilance

 

So long and thanks for all the Covfefe

~B

 

 

Of Freedom Of The Press

#PressFreedom

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

A day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

For a second I thought to myself what does press freedom have to do with me? I am not a journalist, I don’t work for a media practitioner…..

But like everyone else I pick up a newspaper and browse through, sometimes I find articles about journalists being arrested or detained, cameras and voice recorders being confiscated or destroyed. Media blankets from certain proceedings….. or key government officials calling media parasites or a circus….

According to the Reporters Without Boarders website Zimbabwe Ranks 128 on the World Press Index a ranking based on RSF’s assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.

Zimbabwe _ RSF-2.jpg

Zimbabwe Press Freedom Index

I won’t say I am a supporter of the press but it has always existed to fill the information gap and they should be able to disseminate truthful information without bias or prejudice or fear, but at the end of the day; Media Houses are a business, and they provide news and information not as a benevolent act but their bottom line is to make money; to sell newspapers, to sell advertising space and whatever else that pays that puts food on their table….

It’s quite easy for The Press to slide down the slippery slope of only covering sensational stories, emotive news that stirs emotion and likewise sales and once down that path its quite easy to start making up your own news when there is none, speculative opinion pieces dressed up as fact; or whomsoever butters their bread tells them to cover a particular story and not another.

Sometimes the media seems nothing more than a tool whose sole purpose is to build or destroy politicians…

Pick a paper any paper what are the odds the leading story is political…

And sometimes it’s a voice for the voiceless and a defender of the people’s liberties but who defends defender……

I remember once getting a communique that was supposedly from Ministry of Information’s office to various radio stations informing them not to cover news on certain protests as it would glamourize civil disobedience…..

It must be tough being part of the government machine, how many secrets you must keep, I am sure it’s with good intentions (at first) you keep these secrets to maintain order( I would like to believe) . It’s not hard to imagine how people were to react if they were told for example the government only has enough money or water or other basic need for one more month before the country reserves run dry, mayhem and chaos…. I have seen the apocalyptic movies where people become mindless animals when they don’t have hope….

Sometimes it seems like hope is more important than truth……

So the state keeps a secret, to preserve hope, a curious journalist sniffs out a scoop and what happens next has happened before and will probably happen again.

If governments didn’t keep so many secrets, if they trusted its citizens not to react like base creatures and properly explained; If good governance meant transparency maybe Press Freedoom would not even be an issue….. but cows come home to roost; scandals break out, politicians fall out of favour, new politicians rise and  they become exactly the system they criticized, and so the cycle continues….

And now we live in the internet age which has brought with it a paradigm shift of how we consume THE NEWS…. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection is suddenly a pseudo-journalist. Something happens, you capture it on your phone, you tweet it, blog it and share it via WhatsApp and in seconds it has gone viral before traditional media houses can even say “BREAKING NEWS”

Its absolutely brilliant but it has its pitfalls such as the increase in unverified information or downright slanderous gossip masquerading as fact being peddled by people seeking their two minutes of internet notoriety; for example celebrities have been “killed” several times over, fake news, satirical and downright cyber victimization (leaking of chats, pictures and videos)

Small wonder governments are trying to find ways of monitoring and regulating the internet….. it’s an unruly information jungle. But if only they did with the intention of safeguarding citizens it’s simply a way of controlling information, information is power.

Once the was a time when all internet service was down and conspiracy theorists claim it was a directive from the government trying to stop a citizen protest which rallied around the national flag as it was deemed that the protests were being mobilized via social media.

Our government is trying to pass Cyber Act which gives them power to arrest people deemed to be inciting violence or causing unnecessary alarm and despondency…….

The Press is no longer some journalist with press card and a column in a newspaper, The Press is someone in your phonebook, in your contacts list, in your email, in your whatsapp group, the next person whose tweet you retweet….

Are you really free if you are afraid to speak? How will you be heard when you do not speak?

~B

Of Coffee, April Fools, Short Stories and Fathers

If you were having coffee with me I would say thank you for joining me, how have you been? I have been good cheers to the New Month, hello April what do you have in store for us? Good things I hope.

So did anyone play any good April Fools pranks on you or did you do the pranking?

I didn’t prank anyone but I did write a Very Short Story #VSS called April’s fool:

He used to be the court jester, till he clowned his way into queen April’s heart. No one ever called him King only April’s Fool….

For those who follow my twitterverse account @Beatonm5 you might have noticed I tweet a lot using that hashtag #VSS.. I have been asked many times what this means  it simply stands for a very short story. Twitter and its 140 characters per tweet makes you adept at the fine art of brevity of expression and challenges your creative skills to write a story. If you have a second you can find my #VSS tweets by clicking HERE. If you tweet micro-stories on twitter do let me know and I will check it out and if you haven’t you must try it, it’s also a good way to come up with writing ideas or a story to develop further, for those moments you think you have writer’s block.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I attended my first mass today. Before you look at me with that scandalous expression it was not my first mass but rather it was the first mass I have been to where the priest in attendance is a family member. He got ordained as a priest last year but time and circumstance had not made it possible for me to attend any of his services. It was quite weird, watching him, deliver sermons and perform sacred rites of communion with ease of someone who has been a priest all his life. It’s also weird how once, he was my young brother and now I call him Father, he looks older. He looks like someone you can confess your sins to, without being judged and expecting him to mete out a fair penance of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, someone who could officiate your wedding, baptise your little ones and when you laid there on your deathbed someone who would perfom the last rites and finally bury you and into the   hole ye goes… Someone you could call Father.

I remember attending his ordination ceremony officiated by an Apostolic nuncio who is the Pope’s emissary so it was quite an honour. The community decided to welcome him by bestowing upon him the gift of a totem, he was declared of the Moyo (Heart) Clan. I am fairly sure protocol was creatively circumvented and he accepted ever so graciously. He thanked the family for our generosity in letting go one of ours to a greater calling. The ordination of a priest, it feels bittersweet like part marriage and part funeral… Christ being the bridegroom: does that make the priest, the bride? but unlike a wedding you are not gaining in-laws as such, but losing your relation to the church … imagine calling your own son father I guess that’s why priest end up in parishes far from their home and family to prevent awkward encounters and broken hearts just like at any wedding.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell I just got my few seconds of fame from a YouTube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcmwF7_6Ljo

where I got a shout out from Leeann who I featured on my blog The Girl In the Red Dress ( she has a YouTube channel and shares recipes with Conde a parrot I do believe) anyhow someone watched the clip and is now a new follower on my blog, I would have mentioned them by name but, they are internet shy, so I’ll just say I hope you read this wherever you are…

Cheers, April Showers and May Flowers

~B

PS speaking of pranks, and April I am still trying to figure out if this notice from the Zambia Police is real or not, if you do please tell me so…..

police.jpg