THE year 2022 was very challenging. More challenging to small businesses than multinationals. Forget profit, the year was so rough for businesses that even just staying alive and resisting closure was a huge achievement. Many businesses have closed during the course of 2022 because the harsh economic conditions could not support their existence. Hundreds and thousands of our people lost employment due to closure or downsizing of companies. It was really a tough year.

For the media industry, the situation was not different. A number of media houses could not survive 2022 because it became impossible for them to generate enough income that could support their operations. Reeling from the devastation of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic where more businesses were forced to close, it became difficult for our organisations to reconnect with firms that could support the industry. Selling content to readers and viewers was a challenge because people’s spending power was significantly reduced due to lack of disposable income. With the rise of basic commodity prices, our people could not afford buying news.

For the newspaper industry, it was worse. After Covid-19 shrunk street sales of newspapers, we were forced to face off with social media and battle for readers. It was never going to be easy in a world where people now have the power in their hands to read and publish news on the go. As if that was not enough, the Kwacha hit rock bottom, pushing the prices of raw material to unprecedented highs. Meanwhile, the newspaper cover price remained unchanged in an attempt to make news affordable for every class of citizens. When we thought it could not get worse, the revenue authority, in search of more resources, came in to impose VAT on newspaper sales, a situation that was never there before. Still, we had to survive without yet passing on the cost to our readers. That’s how hard 2022 was.

Those of us who have survived, have survived by a shoestring. But that shoestring was not going to hold us up had it not been for the support we received from our advertising clients, readers, donors and news sources. We have to thank those who used our platform to communicate with the masses. We have our online and print subscribers to thank. We had funders like the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa to thank. OSISA believed in us before some of our local partners developed trust and confidence in what we do. With OSISA’s support, we traversed the country facilitating dialogue between leaders and the electorate. With OSISA’s support, we aggressively took on the Covid-19 sensitisation campaign, leading us to win an award from the Zambia Medical Association.

There are other donors who made 2022 a success for us in a silent yet loud manner. These are donors who, in the process of subscribing to our new content, went a step further to drop a donation through our online platform. You are too many to name, but your support is greatly appreciated. A newspaper is nothing without readers. No advertising client wants to do business with a newspaper that no one reads. So, thank you for marketing our product.

Talking about advertising clients, you have made our dream come true. Today, Zambians can recognise us as a truly independent media outfit because of you. Your financial support has made it possible for us to resist going to bed with politicians; to give a platform to all political parties – ruling and opposition alike. You have given us the confidence to believe in ourselves; to believe that it is possible for a media house in our country to practice journalism without a political agenda.

We cannot end the year without extending our appreciation to whistleblowers; those who risked their lives and jobs to expose corruption and bad governance through our newspaper. Our readers chose NOT to abandon us because you gave us unique content that set us apart. No matter how hard things may get for us, we remain firm because we think about how much we would let you down if we gave up.

OUR SORRY: A year is long and it’s almost impossible to conduct business for 12 months without offending someone unwittingly. There are those people we offended with absolutely no intention. Some were able to bring to our attention the genuine mistakes we committed and we did not hesitate to correct the errors. However, there are still some who let it pass, despite being affected by our genuine mistakes. We recognise that you deserve our expression of regret.

Our goal and resolution for 2023 is to raise the bar further for investigative journalism in Zambia and to bring you content that shall give you value for your support. Thank you for doing business with us in 2022. We wish you a prosperous, healthy and profitable 2023, full of God’s blessings and favour. May your dreams and resolutions come true.