The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter has condemned a tendency by political leaders of turning press briefings into political rallies; a day after UTM president Saulos Chilima held a presser in the presses of party supporters in Lilongwe.
Through a statement released on Thursday, MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said in as far as they appreciate the openness that several political parties have shown by being proactive in the provision of information, the tendency of having political supporters attending press briefings create a hostile environment to journalists.
“Holding press conferences in the presence of party supporters which create a hostile environment such that oftentimes journalists are forced to self-censor and limit themselves to asking softer questions. Memories are still fresh of the persecution that journalists who brave such hostile environments have gone through. Press conferences should be limited to relevant technocrats or officials and people directly responsible for the presser,” Said Ndanga while commending those political leaders who have been open to the media by among others calling for press conferences.
The body has threatened to advise its membership to boycott such press briefings because “a guaranteed free environment for the practice of journalism is one of our critical function areas” to ensure the safety of journalists.
Added Ndanga, “We would also like to encourage journalists to maintain the zeal and passion for the profession so as to provide Malawians with information that would help them make informed decisions during the May elections.”
She also noted that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have also not taken heed of the body’s calls to keep to the confines of a press briefing.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic mediaàFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :