Catholic journalists asked to avoid sensational reporting on Covid-19

The Catholic journalists photo by Edwin Mauluka

The Association for Catholic Journalists (AC) has appealed to Catholic journalists in Malawi to avoid creating unnecessary fear and panic among Malawians through sensational reporting on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

ACJ Central Regionl chapter Sam Kalimba made the appeal in Lilongwe on Saturday during the ACJ Workshop on COVID-19 reporting. The workshop, which is the first of its kind and was organized with financial support from Trocaire, took place at Bishop Nervi Media Centre in Lilongwe and it attracted over 50 journalists and presenters.

Fr Phokoko urges Catholic journalists not to be sensational.-Photo by Edwin Mauluka

Kalimba said the association organized the training to equip Catholic journalists with skills and knowledge on how best to report on the pandemic.

“The training has set a pace for the Catholic journalists to report aggressively on the pandemic. However, I urge my fellow ACJ members that we should not terrify the world through our reporting. We should not terrify the faithful. It’s our duty to bring the backsliding faith back to their faith,” he said.

Kalimba warned that sensational and irresponsible reporting on the pandemic can potentially create fear and panic among Malawians; and, that is what the association is trying to avert through provision of media trainings to its members.

“This training will therefore give you confidence in writing stories that can help give hope to the nation while providing information that can help in fighting against the disease,” he said.

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) – an umbrella body of the Catholic bishops in Malawi – has since lamented that COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the spiritual and sacramental life of the Catholic Christians in Malawi as well as globally.

Speaking when he opened the workshop, the ECM national communications coordinator, Father Godino Phokoso, expressed fear that the pandemic could potentially threaten the future of the church in the long run.

“We are all affected by this pandemic – over a million cases globally is a cause for worry for us as the Catholic Church and three confirmed cases here in Malawi. The pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety in the Catholic Church because the church values the sanctity of life and that any loss of life is a huge loss to the church of God,” he said.

“Moreover, this pandemic has disturbed the whole sacramental life in the Catholic Church like suspension of masses in other countries and even some dioceses in Malawi. More than 500 000 deaths caused by Covid-19 threatens the church, which upholds the dignity and value of life,” Phokoso added.

He implored Catholic journalists to assume the role of foot soldiers of the church who can be relied upon by disseminating credible and evidence-based information to avoid raising unnecessary public alarm in relation to the pandemic.

“I would like to thank our donor, Trocaire, for the financial support towards this very important training on Covid-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus. So, we really have to appreciate the team that came up with this initiative that we be drilled in issues concerning Covid-19. We take this seriously and benefit from each and every bit of the training,” stressed Phokoso.

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