Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education, Patricia Kaliati has appealed to Malawians to stop writing insulting comments on leading interactive online publication Nyasa Times, saying citizens should desist from insulting their political leaders.
Kaliati made the appeal during the Times Radio phone-in discussion program hosted by Brian Banda on Tuesday to mark World Press Freedom Day, the day the United Nations set aside to reflect on challenges and successes in the media.
She was joined during the program via telephone by Editorial Director of Nyasa Times, Thom Chiumia who informed that this year the online publication is celebrating a milestone after a decade of existence serving Malawians and the world at large as a reliable news output.
The Minister while commending Nyasa Times said there was room for improvement and cited the comments section on stories, that it sometimes has insulting discussions.
“I urge you to make sure the comments that making incendiary remarks about women and their appearance and those that are insulting leaders should not be posted,” said Kaliati.
Kaliati urges Malawians to desist from insulting their political leaders and treat them with decorum and respect.
She said insulting comments or media use of degrading photos are retrogressive and also decays the morale fibre of the country.
“Insulting comments does not reflect the nature of warm hearted Malawians,” she said.
In his remarks, Chiumia said Nyasa Times will ensure to moderate comments to give a stonewall to the insulting comments but will continue to allow people to express themselves freely by giving constructive criticism.
Kaliati said the government of President Peter Mutharika supports press freedom and reiterated his commitment that “no journalist will be arrested or stopped from professionally doing his or her job during this administration.”
“We believe that the media can only participate meaningfully in supporting development if they are given press freedom,” Kaliati pointed out.
In celebrating media freedom, Kaliati reminded the journalist to exercise their freedom with responsibility and professionalism.
She said President Mutharika is a friend of the media and wishes the media to continue serving Malawi with a sense of patriotism, high integrity and the dedication of national duty.
According to press reports, commentators such as Boniface Dulani, a political and social analyst, based at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito and Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa have given the Malawi media the thumbs.
Dulani told The Nation that Malawi private media is “ vibrant” with “great effort to balance stories and to get independent commentary” but that the public media gets a ‘poor’ rating for what he called poor quality and bias .
While Kubalasa said local media houses need to “up their game” in ensuring that professional gaps are closed urgently.
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