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ALPHA Media Holdings (AMH) – publishers of NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard – will stop printing Southern Eye next month due to viability woes. AMH editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya on Thursday told the newspaper’s staff in Bulawayo that as part of the organisation’s cost-cutting measures, the paper would cease publication on April 1.

He said lack of aertising and poor sales had contributed to the decision.

Some of Southern Eye’s journalists will be reassigned to NewsDay and The Independent in Harare.

The editor Kholwani Nyathi, according to sources, will remain in Bulawayo leading a small team that will continue publishing the newspaper online.

Senior journalists from the organisation said the news was disheartening.

“I’ve never felt so much pain in my whole life,” said one reporter. “It’s sad to see the publication shutting down, we all face an uncertain future.”

Staff members at the organisation accuse senior managers in Harare of failing to support the newspaper since its inception.

Southern Eye was launched on June 3, 2013, by the organisation’s chairman Trevor Ncube.

AMH is partly-owned and funded by the New York-based Media Development Fund, which also supports Ncube’s Mail amp Guardian in South Africa.

AMH, despite its troubles, last year applied for a commercial radio licence for Bulawayo. Cont Mhlanga’s Fair Talk Communications was awarded the licence.

Southern Eye’s closure comes hot on the heels of The Zimbabwe Mail’s decision to cease publishing daily and turning into a weekly.

The paper, owned by Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, found the going tough in an unforgiving industry characterised by poor sales and declining aertising revenues.

Last month, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo joked that if the Government knew that privately-owned newspapers would struggle, they would not have spent years trying to resist issuing them publishing licences.

“It turns out,” he said at the Bulawayo Press Club in the wake of The Zimbabwe Mail’s troubles, “there’s no need to bother these guys because market forces will take care of them.”

Last night, reacting to news of Southern Eye’s closure, Prof Moyo said: “The truth of the matter is that the environment is very harsh for the entire (media) sector without exceptions.

“Only those with institutional depth, history and committed audiences are likely to survive.”

The minister said Government was “very concerned” and was looking forward to the publication of the Information Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report on the state of the Zimbabwean media.

Source : The Herald

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