INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ETHICS DAY IN ZIMBABWE
Date: Thursday, 29th September, 2011
Time: 9.00 am - 12.30 pm
Venue: Jameson Hotel, Harare, Zimbabwe
Organizers: Center for International Media Ethics in collaboration with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe) along with the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ)
Journalists meeting at a Media Ethics Indaba organised by MISA-Zimbabwe in Harare on 29 September 2011 acknowledged the decline in journalism ethics and professionalism in Zimbabwe saying corrective measures needed to be instituted as a matter of urgency. Delegates agreed that there was urgent need to retain respectability to the profession through strict adherence to the cardinal rule of reporting truthfully without bias or embellishments.
Speakers at the indaba who included eminent Zimbabwean journalist Geoffrey Nyarota and Takura Zhangazha, the director of the self-regulatory media body, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), among others, attributed the decline in professional standards to pressure from publishers to make money.
Zhangazha stressed the urgent need to revisit commitment to the code of conduct endorsed by Zimbabwean journalists as espoused in terms of the principle of media self-regulation. “Media self-regulation is the democratic premise for promoting and protecting freedom of expression. There is therefore urgency to revisit commitment to the Code of Conduct and stop the state from taking over (regulation of) the media because once that happens the right to freedom of expression and the profession itself will be undermined,” said Zhangazha.
Nyarota who is Advisory Board member of the Center for International Media Ethics (CIME), expressed concern on the quality of the news content and misleading headlines. “Competition (in the advent of licensing of more newspapers), in my view has resulted in journalists and editors casting certain ethical issues to the wind and short-changing the reading public,” said Nyarota who also delivered a belated message to mark the International Media Ethics day which will be celebrated annually.
Delegates noted with concern that embedded journalism was slowly creeping into the media with journalists becoming friends of politicians and businesspersons which tends to cloud their professional neutrality when it comes to reporting accurately and truthfully. Publishers were also blamed for employing ill-trained journalists whom they pay low salaries.
On the other hand, editors were accused of failing to provide leadership and guidance to cadet reporters who were often heaped with responsibilities beyond their abilities. The meeting also noted with regret that several editors from both the private and public media had been unable to attend the indaba.
The indaba was convened to review the state of media ethics in Zimbabwe as well come up with recommendations on how best the media can serve the public responsibly and accountably through well researched, educative, informative and ethical reportage.