Mzuzu-(MaraviPost)—Media Council of Malawi (MCM) and Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter on Wednesday engaged journalists in the Northern Region of Malawi through their body, Nyika Media Club (NMC), in an interface aimed at self regulating the industry.
The meeting, which invited members from the Civil Society Organizations such as Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia and Youth and Society (YAS), zeroed on the importance of media practitioners working responsibly and in accordance with media professional code of ethics.
Speaking in her capacity as chairperson for Misa Malawi, Tereza Ndanga said media practitioners ought to be responsible and accountable to the general public because that is who they serve.
“Sometimes, the feeling out there is that the media cannot be criticised or they are not answerable to anyone and therefore, they are not accountable to anyone. But the truth of the matter is that we serve the citizens. So, they are our bosses and we need to be accountable to them and therefore, we are saying that we need to demonstrate that are capable of ensuring that standards and ethics are being followed to the core.
“And that where there is a complaint and citizens feel that we have not done well, they have a process that they can follow and get redressed,” said Ndanga.
While sharing similar sentiments with Ndanga, Executive Director for Media Council of Malawi, Moses Kaufa, highlighted on the need to marry self regulation of media practitioners with the law.
Kaufa said: “Issues to do with self regulation need to be recognised by law. So, we need to know that self regulation itself is not mentioned in the Communications Act. So, that actually has to be elaborated in the act to give power to Media Council to say before issues go to Macra or court, they have to be handled by Media Council because it represents media institutions who are committed to conducting themselves professionally. So, we want this to be recognised in the law.”
One of the civil society organisations’ representatives, Happy Mhango, who is HRDC’s Chairperson for the north, praised Misa Malawi and MCM for organising the meeting, saying such a discussion will go a long way in sharpening journalists in their quest to abide by professional ethics.
“This is a very important and timely workshop; it has come at a time when there are complaints out there that sometimes the way stories are presented, they injure other people. And out there, the media people feel that there is no one who can hold them to account.
“Now that it is coming from the media persons themselves; realising that they also need to start regulating themselves, we find this very progressive. Actually, what they are trying to tell us is that they are also accountable to citizens and they are accountable to whoever is there,” explained Mhango.
The meeting, which was highly charged with arguments from the participants, comes at a time when there is an outcry from the general public that with the fast paced technological advancement everyone wants to be a journalist through unregulated use of social media and so enhancing cyberbullying.