Blantyre, August 10: Minister of Information, ICT and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati has called on journalists in the country to investigate and get firsthand information from communities when writing development stories.
Kaliati said journalists should use bottom-up approach to cover real issues affecting people.
Kaliati said this in Blantyre on Wednesday during the opening of a two-day awareness building workshop on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for District Information Officers in the Ministry of Information drawn from all regions.
During the General Assembly in September, 2015 in New York, heads of state and government adopted the post 2015 development agenda and the 17 SDGs and 169 targets were among resolutions adopted by the General Assembly.
The SDGs seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and complete what MDGs did not achieve.
She said, “SDGs are priorities to many countries including Malawi. I urge you journalists to interact with the community at grassroots and hear their concerns.
“Remember to be very factual when reporting because information is power, it can build or break at the same time.
“Use bottom-up approach and get real stuff from reliable concerned people in the communities and concentrate much on developmental stories that are impacting people.”
Kaliati said journalists are the fourth arm of government entrusted with power to inform the public and the media fraternity should be creative when reporting matters that deal with the public.
“Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are anti-poverty goals and need to be localized in order to meet the needs of the public.
“The District Information Officers being trained today are the ones who stay in districts where several developments that can lead Malawi to achieve 17 SDGs are taking place.
“Journalists are the ears and eyes of the public and have a big responsibility and my plea is they have to be active even with the little resources they have,” said Kaliati.
The minister further said Malawi has capacity to achieve all SDGs, but called on all stakeholders to take part if all this is to happen.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Economics Advisor for Malawi, Alma Bhatia called on the District Information Officers to be ambassadors of popularizing the 17 SDGs in their respective districts.
Bhatia said UNDP will continue facilitating transfer of knowledge among different stakeholders to promote development.
She said SDGs are there to continue where Millennium Development Goals that ended in December last year stopped.
She said, “SDGs are not UN or Malawi agendas rather belong to the public, but our appeal as UNDP is journalists should build national acceptance of the agenda.”
The 17 SDGs that include zero poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation among others will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.