Journalists are currently commemorating World Press Freedom Day at Government Complex where Justice Minister Given Lubinda is officiating.
This is under the theme “Critical minds for critical times”.
Elias Banda Organising Committee:
“During the run up to election and after, the media suffered various injustices. Licenses for several radio and television stations were revoked, private media houses were threatened by political players.
The Post Newspaper which has been instrumental to democracy since 1991 was closed.
Two journalists, Peter Sukwa from The Post and Mike Tembo from Feel Free Radio were beaten by cadres.
Our prayer is that we can have a cordial relationship with the government of the day, so that we can provide checks and balances.
Provided with critical information, our people will be actively involved in debates of governance.
The appetite for politics cadres to attack journalists from both sides has to stop.
We are tired of demanding for the Access to Information Bill, we are tired of submitting before the parliamentary committee the reasons why we need these laws.
These laws will not only help the media, but the general public.
Journalists are working without pay, and those who are paid if times are paid slave wages.
Female journalists are expected to offer sexual favors to their editors for them to be be sent in lucrative positions. This has to stop.
Media must ensure that journalists are well trained and specialized in matters they report on.
We need protection from the government against political attacks.
Banning of government media institutions from advertising in private media which are deemed critical of the government needs to stop.”
UN REP Martin fe Maya:
“The media is today at a crossroads. The operating space for the traditional media is now increasingly shared by others. Social media has grown exponentially.
This has given power to anyone with access to the internet to write there own stories.
This phenomenon has led to anyone of us publishing news and shape opinions.
But this comes with the challenge of false news and inaccuracies. Main stream media has to shape itself and distinguish itself by being professional.
Access to Information is crucial in every democracy, and I am aware that for the past 13 years now, the government and media in Zambia have been engaged in discussions on the need for the Access to Information Bill, I will to encourage you to continue in this discussion.
Zambians must guard their peace jealousy , media must spread messages of tolerance and dialogue.”
UNESCO director General Irina Bokova notes that a blurry line was emerging between news content and advertising, thereby weakening the role of media in critical reporting.
“Online, the lines are becoming bleary between advertising editorial material. We see private actors rising as intermediaries by private censorship.”
She said with the advent of fake news, the role free independent media has never been critical.
“Independent and free media has never been so important to strengthen governance.”
Fr Leonard Chiti notes the challenges which the media is facing in the country and how political tension is affecting journalists.
“Primary responsibility of the media is to report accurately, under a freed environment. We live in critical times in this country. No one can deny the political tension going on in the country. These times call for men and women in the media who can report news without fear. You, the media are a critical sector of our our society. Like I said, in terms of peace, we are experiencing some problems as a result of recent activities, but I cannot say much about that because those matters are being handled by relevant authorities. We need impartial and responsible reporting, the media must champion for peace and not fuel tension. We need positive information from our media to help our society.
The gap between the haves and have nots keeps on growing. My message to the media today is that you must not be tired in informing the public. We must provide checks and balances to the government by reporting the truth.