Zimbabwe: 'Don't Abuse Journalistic Privileges'

Mashonaland West Bureau

JOURNALISTS should always act professionally, adhere to ethics and never abuse their journalistic priviledges, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza said in Chinhoyi at the belated World Press Freedom Day commemoration organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

Deputy Minister Paradza said while the Second Republic had worked hard to make sure that journalists operated in a conducive environment, with more employment opportunities created through licencing of new radio and television stations, some media practitioners had become political activists hiding behind the 'noble profession'.

"This is a noble profession that we all belong to but when we are now deviating from the tenets of this profession and want to be activists, we should leave the profession and let others continue with the profession. If you want to be a political activist, come and join us but if you want to be a journalist, this is a profession where you have to be factual in whatever you do.

"What some of you do these days is that they always think negative things. As journalists, you mustn't be angry and be like a doctor who prescribes wrong medicine to patients," he said.

Deputy Minister Paradza schooled the journalists that were present at the meeting about being objective and being inquisitive over evidence supplied by sources. "Always know that sources have motives to give you stories. As a journalist, it is always prudent to analyse why the source has availed you the story. There is always a motive around every story and as a journalist, you should always balance the story.

Always get two sides of the story and this is basic. Just be professional and do not abuse the freedom and privileges that you have got as journalists," said Deputy Minister Paradza.

He re-lived his experiences as a journalist during his days at the now defunct Tribune newspaper saying: "During my time as a journalist, I interviewed former President Mugabe five times on a one-on-one basis. If I was focusing only on negative stories about him, would I have gotten those chances?"

Media and Broadcasting Parliamentary committee member and former Information Minister Webster Shamu, who also attended the celebrations, said the commemoration served as a reminder to governments on the need to respect their commitment to media freedom.

Professional journalism would address the challenges being brought by internet and digital platforms that have been used to increase the proliferation, amplification and promotion of harmful and fake content.

Co-regulation between the government and the media, he said, was essential for any nation adding that his committee was inaundated with complaints from media practitioners.

MISA-Zimbabwe board of trustees member Davison Maruziva said the best vaccine against fake news coming out on social media was for members of the Fourth Estate to follow the truth.

Women's Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga bemoaned rising cases of gender based violence, rape and early child marriages before urging media to expose the acts.

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