It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but the Herald still is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest newspapers with a very wide circulation although it has lost the pole position in recent months according to stats published by our friends at Techzim. The Herald is now number 3 when it comes to online news. In a bid to change this, Zimpapers is launching a WhatsApp chat service that will allow you to read the Herald on WhatsApp.

The service is still in the trial phase and as of now those joining the WhatsApp service will be able to read the paper for free. If you are interested here is how to subscribe:

  • Save the number 0719004434
  • Send the message “News” to the number
  • The chatbot on the other end will respond with options
  • Chose the option you prefer, most people will probably prefer the daily option in which case you can just send the message “01#07” without the quotes.
  • You will be presented with the day’s headlines once the subscription is successful

The good and the bad

For now it’s hard to fault the service as it’s still free. Some outfits such as AMH who publish the Zimbabwean Independent and Newsday already have a WhatsApp service but theirs is different. They send their papers as PDF files which has the advantage that the paper is closer to the real thing and is presented in a uniform format that allows them to flight ads as well. However, the papers usually are quite large and the entire paper is thrown at you instead of only what you want. So the Herald option requires less data but it will probably lead to formatting issues.

There is also the issue of News theft. Once you have the news item you can just forward it to your friends. This will hurt the Herald’s revenue stream as there are no ads in the paper.