Ithubalethu Rural Newspaper
Africa!Ignite publishes iThubalethu; a free, plain-language isiZulu newspaper that is published monthly or bi-monthly, with a circulation of 40 000 copies across rural KwaZulu-Natal.iThubalethu gives a voice to rural communities across the province and connects them with information, resources and opportunities in a reader-friendly format, making it an important tool for rural transformation.
The paper offers partners, sponsors and advertisers unequalled reach across KwaZulu-Natal’s rural areas and a distinct niche within the rural context targeting LSM 1-5. Ithubalethu is truly a newspaper for and by rural communities. A feasibility study conducted in early 2009, involving 1 000 community members from across the province, firmly confirmed the need for iThubalethu and clearly defined rural needs.
The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) supported the establishment of iThubalethu. A follow-up survey conducted in 2012 reconfirmed the needs and gave us a clear indication of who our rural readers are and what they want to read in the newspaper.
In 2011 and 2012; funding from the DG Murray Trust has enabled Africa!Ignite to train a network of 20 youths from eight districts of KwaZulu-Natal as journalists, photographers and researchers. The correspondents gather news and views from across the province to ensure that the paper is truly a two-way communications vehicle ‘by and for rural communities.’ The same youths have also been trained as district story-tellers, and they have gathered the stories of their districts’ role models, including rural crafters, as well as of its history, culture and natural environment.
iThubalethu offers enterprise development opportunities to the local correspondents through training, support and payment for published news stories and photographs. We have also connected them with district stakeholders and other media to help them to establish themselves as their districts’ journalists, story-tellers and researchers.
Through interaction with the network of youths and by tapping into their understanding of the needs of their communities, we have also identified three strong new areas of focus for iThubalethu:
Rural Rights’ Watchdog - We aim to enable iThubalethu with its network of youth journalists across rural KwaZulu-Natal to act as ‘watchdogs’ protecting the basic human and consumer rights of marginalised rural communities whose rights are routinely abused because of their isolation and lack of information, resources and bargaining power;
Rural Women Protecting Their Own Health - With partners HIVAN HIV 911, Sinomusanothando Community Development and Inanda FM; we intend to give rural women access to accurate and trust-worthy information and referrals that can help them to protect themselves and their children from a range of serious but avoidable lifestyle-related health problems;
Career Guidance – In partnership with the Zululand Career Centre of the Umfolozi FET College we are providing students with information about career and study opportunities and intend to strengthen this focus of our work. We seek partnerships to strengthen these areas of focus.
|iThubalethu is the largest rural newspaper in South Africa in terms of distribution and reach. The World Association of Newspapers confirms it may be the largest world-wide.|
|Publication frequency||Monthly and bi-monthly|
|Format||12-16 page tabloid, full-colour|
|Geographic area||Rural KZN, all districts|