Zimbabwean state media hurl the most terrible insults at the independent media sector. But journalists from both sides are quite happy to share a drink at the end of the day, according to an article by IRIN. 

IRIN writes:

Zimbabwe is one of the few places in the world where you can still be called a "running dog of imperialism", and other choice revolutionary phrases, by a state media that seethes, daily, at the opposition.

The Herald, the official newspaper, maintains a government line that political dissent is manufactured by foreign powers, who pull the strings of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); these same imperialists are the cause of Zimbabwe's economic disaster.

The newspaper has dismissed images of people tortured in this year's election campaign, overwhelmingly MDC supporters, as pictures of "road accident victims".

According to the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, an independent trust promoting press freedom, the abduction and murder of an MDC activist, Tonderai Ndira, was described as an "incredible … the-dog-ate-my-homework" fairy tale.

In September, two senior editors of Zimpapers, the stable of pro-government newspapers, were rewarded with top-of-the-range luxury German cars by the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The private media, struggling with a lack of funding, lack of access to government ministers, and an inability to report from rural areas in fear of the security services, are also branded as "sell-outs" and "agents of imperialism". Their coverage, in turn, is almost consistently critical of the government.

And yet, despite the intense political polarisation on the printed page, Zimbabwe's journalists see themselves as professionals, just doing their jobs, and often wind up in the same bars at night.

"Anti-private media sentiments come from our bosses; otherwise, we have no problems with our comrades because we are in the same field," one journalist from the state media told IRIN.

Farai Mutsaka, who worked for The Daily News, once the country's most popular newspaper but now banned, said that trying to sow division between journalists would not work.

"Basically, journalists are colleagues. They studied together, some even share flats. Maybe it has not sunk into the minds of politicians that some of the stories about the goings-on in government could be the result of information-sharing among journalists from across the divide."

Godwin Mangudya, a freelance journalist, worked for both the government-owned news agency, ZIANA, and The Daily News before it was closed by the authorities. "What binds us together is our profession of journalism, and not who we work for."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]