Dean of Education and Media Studies at the Polytechnic a constituent college of the University of Malawi, Grey Mang’anda, has described Malawi journalists as cowards for failing to write balanced stories for fear of being intimated or tortured by some powerful politicians.
Mang’anda said this on Monday in Blantyre during the start of the four-day Broadcasting Ethics and Conflict Reporting Workshop where he is one of the facilitators.
He was responding to concerns by participants who have drawn from almost all radio stations in the country that sometimes they have been failing to balance their stories because of fear of being beaten up or manhandled by politically sponsored thugs.
They cited an example of former Blantyre Newspapers Limited journalist Mc Donald Chapalapata whose vehicle was petrol bombed by thugs soon after he published a story which was talking bad about Leston Mulli one of the most powerful politicians during for president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.
The journalists revealed that there has been a cartel of journalists who are paid by Mulli to write nothing but good about him.
They cited examples of the time when Mulli was involved in the land wrangle with Mary Wordsworth in Mulanje where these ‘chequebook’ journalists were only reporting the positive side of Mulli in the issue even when the courts ruled in favor of Wordsworth.
The revelation baffled Mang’anda, who is also a journalist by profession, forcing him to withdraw the earlier statement he made at the onset of the workshop in which he praised journalists in Malawi for commendable job in informing the nation.
“Now I can see that journalists in Malawi are cowards. How could you let politicians dictate you on what to write about? What direction is Malawian journalism is taking? Now I have withdrawn my earlier statement that journalists in Malawi are doing commendable work,” said Mang’anda.
But the journalists said that sometimes the problem comes because of low salaries they get from their respective work places saying such powerful politicians dish irresistible a lot of money to the poor reporters so that there issues should be broadcast or published.
Therefore participants said the trend would continue unless employers in the industry consider increasing the salaries of journalists.
Journalists in Malawi are reported to be the lowest paid employees in the media industry in the world with some junior reporters receiving monthly salary of less than K12, 000Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :