Responsible journalism is essential for the growth of the country

Responsible journalism is essential for the growth of the country

By Yolanda Moyo

RESPONSIBLE and developmental journalism has been cited as key in rebuilding the country as the Second Republic walks the talk in the transformation of Zimbabwe’s media landscape.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said this when she presented a paper on the role of government in safeguarding public interest journalism at the 2022 Africa Journalism and Media Summit in Bulawayo this Thursday.

“The government expects our media to be professional and accountable to the citizens of Zimbabwe. At the end of the day, they must appreciate that they are Zimbabweans first and they have a responsibility towards contributing to the development of their country.

“They cannot be bystanders as if they don’t belong. Let us all respect the division of labor, mindful of the fact that it is the total of all our efforts that will make our country great. On their part, media practitioners have to improve on the standards of the profession.

“They should report in a truthful, informative, and analytical way and avoid the temptation of tabloid sensationalism. The government has adopted stringent policies against the spread of fake news and we believe that the measures put in place provide good grounds for credible journalism to thrive,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Senator Mutsvangwa also reiterated the Second Republic’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for the media as demonstrated by policy changes and reforms implemented in the past four years.

“Many of you here will testify that the Zimbabwean Government has demonstrated commitment to enabling a conducive environment for the promotion of public interest journalism, restoring trust in journalism, and fighting fake news, disinformation, and misinformation in a post-news world.

“At the advent of Second Republic, a decision was made to demystify Government processes and Cabinet decisions, hence we came out with the post Cabinet media briefing. Any media reforms must result in the further development and growth of that sector.

“This is being enhanced by the government’s pursuit of the digital broadcasting migration programme, which will unlock more frequencies for more radio stations. Resources have been limited by other contesting interests especially with the striking of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020, but we are getting there. My Ministry is concerned about the welfare and safety of media personnel.”

The Government has been commended for creating an enabling environment in the media sector, with stakeholders being urged to collaborate in addressing challenges in the industry.

“We are happy about the reforms that have been implemented. The environment enables diverse voices and this shows that the momentum will grow. We are looking for the Media Practitioners’ Draft Bill so that media can be co-regulated for the betterment of the profession,” said Lenox Mhlanga, board chairperson for the Zimbabwe Centre for Media and Information literacy.

“We are very excited to hold this two-day summit where the media is engaging with government and all relevant stakeholders sharing the needs that the media is finding itself in the changing environment,” said Anna Hoffman Kwanga, country director for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

The Second Republic has been walking the talk in implementing media reforms through the licensing of 14 community radio stations, six commercial national free air to television stations, and eight campus radio stations, while a content distribution service license was awarded to Azam Media Private Limited.