Misa Malawi urges journalists to observe professionalism

Media Institute of  Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi says  journalists in the country need to reposition themselves and always strive for professionalism to enhance their credibility as the country marches towards tripartite elections.

Misa Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda made the sentiments Saturday in Mzuzu during the start of activities marking the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day that falls on 3 May every year.

He explained that the public expect a lot from the media especially when the country is to hold the first tripartite polls next year. He said media practitioners need to reposition themselves so that they effectively cover the fourth coming elections.

“We are the ones who always write that the elections have been rigged. But what was our role to make the process free and fair to all parties?

“Rigging is a process that doesn’t occur on the actual day of casting ballot. So, as journalists, we need to strictly adhere to professionalism as our role is to provide checks and balances,” Kasunda explained.

Kasunda: There is no compromise to professionalism
Kasunda: There is no compromise to professionalism

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Safe to speak: securing freedom of expression for all media”.

There was a debate on the topic “Online safety and professionalism: Progress and Challenges for Malawi”.

The issue of lack of professionalism and non adherence to ethics especially now with the emergence of social and online media came to fore. Participants observed that social and online media have created a room for free dissemination of information by anybody.

To that effect, participants observed that with the new media plagiarism, false and malicious information has flourished.

“We have non experts coming into fray;[they] have created blogs, circulating and posting anything in the name of news,” said Nicholus Msowoya, a tutor at Malawi institute of Journalism Mzuzu Campus who was one of the panelists during the debate.

“Regrettably, I’m afraid to say, organisations like Misa Malawi have not come out strongly to censure the unprofessionalism,” he said.

In response, Kasunda said though it is a challenge to regulate online media, his organisation has taken steps by  interacting with some online media publishers to ensure that ethics are observed.

“People have been complaining that there is lack of professionalism. We have talked to some editors of such publications.

“Of late, we have seen some level of professionalism .We will continue promoting that,” he said.

Kasunda further brushed aside claims that Misa Malawi was always backing errant journalists when they have been arrested. He said he  only backs the profession.

“If you are going to write something which is not true, I will not defend you,” he told journalists at the event.

Malawi National Commission for UNESCO, Acting Deputy Executive Secretary Emmanuel Kondowe advised journalists to observe ethics and professionalism all the time to differentiate themselves from untrained information disseminators on social media.

“The society depends on you journalists. You should always be professional and tell the truth. When you’re writing or blogging, you should blog something that will be important and helpful to the society,” Kondowe said.–Malawi News Agency

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