The Feed in Zimbabwe: Changing lives in two-minute-long documentaries
Through short video documentaries, the organisation is proving to be a magic bullet for young people excelling in various trades
By Lemuel Chekai
“Indeed, a problem shared is half solved, but when it’s shared on The Feed’s platforms it has completely been solved,” 21-year-old University of Zimbabwe-bound John Nyama says.
Ranging from securing life-changing handouts for bright minds that are financially downtrodden, to stopping the invasion of precious wetlands by the corporate world, the 2018-born, solely visual online media organisation, The Feed, is changing the course of Zimbabwe’s journalism landscape.
Within the prescribed Twitter video-length limit of just above two minutes — sometimes less — the disruptive media organisation is bundling solution journalism and youth empowerment.
Through short video documentaries, the organisation is proving to be a magic bullet for young people excelling in various trades but failing to transition into the next stages of their success routes due to various impediments.
To date, multiple high-school leavers, who were on the brink of watching their university dreams shattered, and young entrepreneurs in need of financial support, have been assisted through this innovation.
On garnering 17 A-Level points (Zimbabwe’s final secondary education level), orphaned Nyama could not proceed for tertiary education due to a lack of financial support.
Notified of Nyama’s predicament, journalist, and The Feed’s contributor, Samuel Takawira sought to profile the young sensation.
“I visited Nyama’s homestead where he stays together with his grandmother and decided to shoot my story from there. Thereof, I produced the story to fit within Twitter bounds,” Takawira recalls.
On publishing, the brief clip within Twitter video-length limit of two minutes and twenty seconds was tailed with solutions as well-wishers flocked with offers to assist Nyama with tuition fees, accommodation fees, and schooling electronic gadgets.
The story’s impact even saw the country’s prestigious University of Zimbabwe enrolling Nyama despite having missed the enrolment dates.
“I literally saw bleakness turned to joy through a two-minute-long story of my life. I will forever be grateful for this,” Nyama says and adds, “to return the favour, someday in a better position I will be sure to pick someone from the mud,” Takawira attests that the packaging of such stories in the shortest possible time has contributed immensely to solutions that always tail the stories.
“Since studies highlight that the abundance of online content is making it very difficult for internet surfers to stay glued on one page for up to a minute, producing content that hits home in the shortest time possible has become paramount for modern-day content creators. The gist of the story should be told while the viewer is still keen to watch,” Takawira told Jamlab Africa.
He added, “Before Covid-19, there was already information overload for internet surfers and we can conclude it’s even worse now if almost everything has gone virtual is anything to go by. To a content creator, this spells more competition for audience attention hence the need to keep video content short, precise, and captivating.”
This need for precise content, in Zimbabwe, is further persuaded by exorbitant data charges which leave the audience budget-conscious. Twenty-five gigabytes of monthly data cost Z$2,500 (US$30) against civil servants’ average salary of Z$9,000 (US$111).
Conflicting viewership figures on lengthier videos, where viewers are referred from Twitter to YouTube for the complete version, also qualifies the thought that viewers only stick to the initial broadcast despite the reference to watch on another platform — a sign of impatient audience trends.
While The Feed has become a master of cutting edge visual content, it is changing lives for the better and developing journalists equal to the internet-age audience demands.
The model approach of paying contributors per story has also come in handy in pushing for competitive and award-worthy content that characterises the organisation’s platforms.
“It’s never a good story for me when it goes without provoking action towards a challenge pointed out, I’m in this to change lives with my camera,” Takawira says.
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Reporting supported by a micro-grant from Jamlab