MINISTER of Information and Broadcasting Services Joseph Katema has urged media organisations to maintain high ethical and professional standards when executing their role of informing and educating the public.
He says the media should always remember that press freedom is not like a “blank cheque” which can be used to write anything they wish.
Dr Katema, who is chief government spokesperson, said media organisations should strive to be truthful in their reporting and not to be loyal to individuals and their private businesses.
The minister was speaking in Lusaka yesterday at the multiple launch of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Morning Live television show, news and current affairs editorial policy, style book, brand manual and communication strategy.
“This is a basic equitation of ethical and professional media practice. This message goes to all outlets in the country that they should maintain high ethical and professional standards in carrying out their noble role of informing, educating and entertaining the public,” Dr Katema said.
He said ZNBC television has become a marvel to watch because its news content is diverse with a wide coverage.
Dr Katema said Government has provided ZNBC leeway to operate professionally and maintain editorial independence in coverage of news and current affairs.
He urged ZNBC to continue with the good work and strive for excellence in providing a platform for people from all walks of life to interact and air their views on various issues.
The minister said government will continue supporting initiatives by ZNBC to empower people with information for them to participate effectively in national development.
“All we are asking is that please maintain objectivity and professionalism, and above all, be responsible in the discharge of your duties for the benefit of the people of Zambia,” Dr Katema said.
He commended ZNBC for coming up with the documents and Morning Live programme, which will feature individuals from diverse backgrounds and professions to share practical experiences on various national issues.
And ZNBC board chairman John Mulwila said provisions in the news and current affairs editorial policy are binding to all employees
Dr Mulwila warned that those who will abrogate the provisions of the news and current affairs editorial policy will be punished in accordance with the disciplinary code of conduct.
“Further, the provisions contained are also binding on external interest groups or individuals. Those who abrogate these provisions shall be dealt with according to provisions of the Laws of Zambia and other media regulatory bodies,” he said
Dr Mulwila also said the style book was produced to provide professional guidelines to standardise news writing and rules of broadcast writing for ZNBC.
He said the corporation is also considering constituting a broadcast production advisory committee to advise ZNBC on production financing and display of local content.