22 October 2011

Zambia: Be Objective,Lubinda Counsels Public Media

INFORMATION, Broadcasting and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda has observed that a professional and objective media is an asset in empowering citizens with the information they need for them to make informed decisions.

Speaking at an investigative journalism media prize-giving ceremony in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Lubinda said by contrast, a media organisation that was biased, partisan, libelous and sensational was a liability not only to itself but also to the country at large.

"The PF Government's agenda in this regard is clear and precise: we want the media to be the eyes and ears of the public. We want a media that serve national rather than narrow partisan interests," he said.

Mr Lubinda reiterated that Government did not want the media to be 'Vuvuzelas' of the party in power as it wanted a media whose priority was to truthfully, honestly and objectively inform the public.

"We want a media that consistently challenges us to do better by pointing out both strengths and weaknesses. We need informed journalism because we need an informed public. That is how and that is what will make Zambia move forward in its development agenda," Mr Lubinda said.

The minister further reiterated Government's commitment to consistently promote media freedom and independence by putting in place appropriate measures, policies and legislation as it promised in its party manifesto.

"We will ensure ZNBC and other public media houses are no longer forced to serve as Government mouthpieces but live up to their tag and mandate as public information providers. We will review the relevant legal provisions so that their autonomy is further institutionalized, enhanced and entrenched," he said.

World Bank country director Kundhavi Kadiresan said the media was an imperative tool that provided the masses with needed information and journalists should report accurately to enable people make informed decisions.

She said the bank would continue to work with journalists because they played a pivotal role to change people's mindsets and also fostering good governance.

University of Zambia Mass communication department senior lecturer Gerald Mwale said both the private and public media were currently under public scrutiny following their somewhat dismal performance in the run up to the September 20 tripartite elections.

He said although investigative reporting was mainly concerned with revealing corruption, wrongdoing or abuse of power, it could also be about positive things such as correcting a wrong, among others.

Among the recipients were Zambia Daily Mail deputy managing director Anthony Mukwita, who scooped best award in investigative journalism, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation's Effie Mphande and a local journalist Bruce Chooma.

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