By Rodney Majawa
Blantyre, May 3, Mana: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter Chairperson, Tereza Ndanga, on Monday underscored the need for adherence to ethical standards among journalists countrywide.
Ndanga made the call during this year’s World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) Panel Discussion held at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre. This year’s WPF doubles as the 30th Anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration.
“Observation has shown that the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) has been moving at a snail’s pace. It has been quite dormant in the recent years, hence lack of portrayal of professionalism during reporting and editing news stories. The Council ought to reclaim its lost glory.
“It has also been noted that journalists themselves fuel stakeholders to dictate them and even entertaining a culture of corruption which is a form of muzzling the press independence and professionalism which sometimes makes it so hard to distinguish between freedom of press and desirable cultural norms,” said Ndanga.
However, Ndanga expressed delight at certain positive strides the Windhoek Declaration has impacted on media in general for the past thirty years including minimal attacks on media freedom.
“The MISA Malawi Chapter continuously fought for its journalists by taking issues to court whenever their rights to expression and professionalism are breached; threats or siphoning intended media freedom is being minimised among other strides,” she said.
On media sustainability amidst Covid-19 pandemic, Ndanga urged the gatekeepers to explore more innovative avenues to nourish and nurture the media and not only being dependent on advertising agencies; she cited online communication as another step further.
On this, she applauded almost all media houses which have maintained and upheld their workforce whilst other sectors have encountered massive retrenchments as a result of failure to maximise profits on their products and sales and pay employees consistently as before.
State House Director of Communication, Sean Kampondeni, reminded the media practitioners to always be accountable to the general community they are meant to serve whilst at the same time be ready to accept constructive criticism.
Kampondeni echoed Chairperson of the MCM, Wisdom Chimgwede’s sentiments that the Tonse Administration has finally operationalized the Access to Information Law, however, he was quick to point out that as gatekeepers, they are not aiming at faulting stakeholders for not timely responding to questions.
Kampondeni highlighted that all stakeholders needed to provide accurate information, that is among others, by observing thorough checks and audits of what we are intend to publish, abiding by all needed procedural requirements to avoid story retractions or even facing unnecessary legal implications.