Hands off the press – Press Association of Zambia

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New Media, Old Media

THE Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) has raised concern at the fact that politicians appear to expect only favourable coverage from the media and tend to get upset when criticised.
PAZA said it is sad that the media in general, and the public media in particular, have recently faced harsh criticism from some politicians who have branded it “unprofessional” due to perceived negative coverage.
PAZA president Andrew Sakala said in a press statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that politicians should desist from dragging the media into political disputes because they are but just messengers.
Mr Sakala said the media should be allowed to exercise professional and ethical judgment, including independence when covering various issues and must not shy away from conflict in their quest to grow democracy and boost debate.
“PAZA regrets the continued attacks on both private and public media, mostly by politicians who expect media institutions and journalists to toe their political line,” Mr Sakala said.
“Unfortunately, politicians expect the media to take biased positions regarding political disputes,” he said.
Mr Sakala added: “We note that politicians who have received more than their share of coverage in the past from both the public and private media can change and attack the media when they face public scrutiny or opposition.”
He said PAZA wishes to restate its position that politicians should endeavour to create policies and laws that will enable the media to operate in a free and fair environment.
Mr Sakala emphasised that the laws and policies should enable the media, especially the public media, to serve every person fairly, regardless of their station or status in life.
“Status and station of an individual should not be the only major consideration when covering matters of public interest,” he said.
“PAZA, therefore, appeals to the current government to begin moving the media law reform forward so that we have a viable, vibrant, diverse, independent and responsible media in the country.”
He said the association is also disappointed that the enactment of the Access to Information bill has been deferred indefinitely and Government has not given a clear timeframe.
Mr Sakala said this is an important tool in information dissemination as it helps to reduce misinformation and disinformation because access to factual and truthful information will be easier with the enactment of this law.
He called on Government and the public to support provisions on the media contained in the draft constitution.
Mr Sakala expressed hope that the technical committee on the review of the constitution did not water down the provisions as agreed at the national convention early this year.
And Zambia’s ambassador to Sweden Reverend Edith Mutale said Zambian journalists should desist from reporting to satisfy the interests of selfish individuals.
She said journalists should always report the truth to safeguard the interests of the Zambian people.
Rev Mutale said this in a press statement issued yesterday when Zambian journalists from both the public and private media paid a courtesy call on her.
She said journalists have an important role to play in fostering development and reducing poverty through professional, factual, ethical and balanced coverage of events.

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