When UCLan’s latest MA in Journalism graduate stepped up to receive his honours in Preston this afternoon, the event marked a major milestone in a story of determination in face of oppression for the independent publisher.
Jethro Goko resurrected the fiercely independent Daily News in Zimbabwe after its printing presses were blown up in 2001 and then banned by the Mugabe regime.
When the ban was lifted, the Committee to Protect Jounalists reported at the time that ‘the news was greeted with cheers from independent journalists, who have endured years of repression, arrest, and violence at the hands of Zimbabwe’s authoritarian government.’
Having to write anonymously for their own safety, the report went on to say:
“Press freedom activists cautiously welcomed the move, while warning that the government could reverse it if the papers are deemed too critical. Zimbabwe still has no independent TV or radio stations, and repressive laws limiting free speech and requiring journalists to register with government agents remain on the books.”
After juggling regular trips to Preston for seminars and workshops, Goko handed in the first draft of his dissertation two weeks before this summer’s election, which saw Robert Mugabe win again, but just two weeks later started working on his second draft.
The founder of the Journalism Leaders Programme at UCLan, Francois Nel said that many people thought the publishing ban would lead to the end of the paper which has a reputation for ‘telling it as it is’.
He said: “Not so. Though Jethro, who had been on the paper’s board, had moved to South Africa to take up senior editorial roles at Avusa (now Times Media), he continued a legal battle to regain the paper’s license to publish. When that was finally granted in 2009, he refined his business plan and relaunched the newspaper in March 2011. “