Speaker of Parliament grills Malawi journalists

Speaker of the Malawi National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda last Friday summoned journalists covering the on-going Parliamentary proceedings for a grilling session.

The Speaker invited the journalists to his boardroom to express his discontent and that of the Members of Parliament over the manner in which they sometimes cover the deliberations.

Chimunthu Banda said Parliamentarians were uncomfortable with some journalists on how they use some words in their daily reports.

He alleged that often times journalists have misquoted and misrepresented facts that have at some point raised questions about the dignity of the House.

Speaker Chimunthu Banda: To train reporters in parliamentary reporting

In this regard, the Speaker said his office was ready to train some selected journalists so that they specialize in parliamentary reporting.

“I think it is high time that we had specialised reporters for covering parliament. We would like to offer trainings to selected reporters and equip them with parliament terminologies to avoid fake quotes,” the Speaker said this on Friday.

The speaker further said the National Assembly will also engage editors and senior management of media institutions on how relationship between the two bodies could be improved.

Chimunthu Banda then asked the journalists to elect leadership for easy coordination between the office of the speaker and media houses.

“We will also train editors and managers so that they too understand parliamentary language and avoid passing information that is not true and unacceptable,” he said.

In his contribution, Nation Publications’ journalist Philip Pemba applauded the speaker for the initiative which he said will improve parliament reporting.

“This is a brilliant idea and we can assure you that it is doable,” he said.

Another journalist, Frank Kapesa of Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC) asked the speaker to consider establishing a press gallery where reporters can comfortably work without being disturbed by visitors.

Kapesa asked the office of the speaker to consider furnishing press men with detailed information on bills and any other issues the house is deliberating.

Some 10 years ago, a renowned British Parliamentary journalist, Peter Willoughby, then working for the Press Association News at the House of Commons in London, facilitated the establishment of the Press Gallery at the National Assembly but the initiative never saw full moon at the end of the day.

The initiative was born after a two-week parliamentary reporting course for Malawian journalist which was held at the National Assembly and he was also the facilitator.

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