Malawi journalists warned over cash for coverage

Media bodies in Malawi have warned journalists against demanding allowances from news sources if they are to appear in any news outlet. The Media Council of Malawi (MCM), and the MISA-Malawi are advising the general public never to succumb to such demands made by journalists.

In a joint statement, the two national bodies said it has come to their notice that some journalists have been demanding allowances or some form of payment from interviewees and function organizers in exchange for publication or broadcasting of interviews they conduct.

“This is against journalism code of ethics and is viewed as corruption and, therefore, a criminal offense,” says the statement signed by MCM NGC chairperson Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa and MISA-Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda released Tuesday.

Supporting the statement, interim chairperson for the Lilongwe-based Bwaila Media Club (BMC), M’theto Lungu, said the problem was that some people are not really journalists and think that this is a field where one can make easy money by demanding allowances and some kick-backs in exchange for coverage.

“For instance, there are so many so-called freelancers and impersonators that are deep in this violation of ethics. It is not everyone, but the trend is so worrying it is fast diluting the importance of the role journalists play for any developing nation,” he said.

Kasunda: No allowances for news coverage
Kasunda: No allowances for news coverage

Charles Mkula, general secretary for the Journalists Union of Malawi (Juma) also said that this development was worrying, so much that there is need to create stringent measures that can be used to police the practice.

“As Juma we have also tried to take a part in this regard, by asking media houses to have proper identification of their journalists and also to provide them with adequate resources whenever they are out to work. Journalists also deserve better perks so that they are content and cannot go about turning themselves into embarrassing beggars,” he said, adding once issues of perks were improved, perhaps the situation would stop.

The MCM MISA-Malawi statement, however, does not object to function organisers meeting some of the costs such as those related to transportation, meals and accommodation where necessary.

“But this should under no circumstance, be a pre-condition for inclusion or exclusion of any material in a paper or bulletin,” says the two, advising that any such incidents should be immediately reported to the executive director at MCM or alternatively to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Complaints, advises the media bodies, should provide name of the journalist, nature of demand, date, time and place the incident took place.

“Media Council of Malawi, through its well established machinery, will investigate the matter and take necessary action and also provide feed-back to the complainant.

MCM contacts are: [email protected], Media Council of Malawi, Private Bag A51, Lilongwe. Cell: 0999 510 649 and Tel.: 01 752 722 / 720 / 442.

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