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CHAKWERA’S BBC Hardtalk; a big lesson to Malawi’s Journalism Students

BY TOM LIKAMBALE

I have a different take on the Malawi President’s interview on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme yesterday. For me the focus is on journalism.

It is good for students of journalism in Malawi to see an example of what the real job of an interviewer is.

The press is sometimes referred to as “The Fourth arm of government” or, in some quartiers, “The Fourth Estate”.

And as with the other, more formally recognised arms the press can, among other r├┤les, apply its own checks and balances to people in authority and people with public responsibilities. It should not be to the press that leaders should turn for solace or to be worshipped.

If the other arms of government do not hold elected leaders and others with public responsibilities to account for campaign promises or other legitimate expectations, at least the press should.

Students of journalism in Malawi should appreciate the huge value of preparation (knowing the particulars, the facts, of your subject matter) before asking even the first question. They should know that they can insist and persist with follow up questions when an answer is unsatisfactory, inconsistent, misleading or inaccurate.

Or when there is an obvious attempt to weasel out of difficult questions. I said students of journalism.

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