Blantyre, November 20, 2019 (MaraviPost): Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology, Mark Botomani has advised Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Times Media Group to stop publication of fake and negative news but rather focus on developmental stories.
Botomani made the call Wednesday during his first familiarization tour to the two institutions since his appointment as minister for Information.
The minister said the media plays a crucial role in advancing developmental agenda of the country by among others, encouraging the citizenry to effectively participate in activities that will accelerate development.
He said continuous consumption of fake and negative news changes people’s mind-set and in the long run, derails development.
“Media houses must at all cost strive to be objective, fair and factual. My plea to the two institutions and of course all media houses is that they should always resist fake and negative stories,” said Botomani.
The minister said it is time for media houses to run away from the traditional phenomenon where bad news makes a story and adopt developmental as well as advocacy approaches.
The Minister said the tour was an important undertaking as it accorded him an opportunity to better understand operations of media houses and learn some of the challenges faced and, where possible, provide a solution.
“Many issues came out during our interaction and some of them are heavy tax on materials used in producing newspapers, dwindling buying powers of the daily papers and lack of adverts. As a minister responsible, I have assured them that my door is open and I have taken note of their concerns,” he said.
Botomani has since promised to continue providing policy direction to media houses in the country and ensure that they operate in a safer and conducive environment.
The minister also promised to fight for the operationalization of the Access to Information (ATI) law which he described as an important tool for journalists.
“Above everything, let me commend the two media houses for providing a suitable platform to Malawians and for effectively playing the watchdog role. The Media has also assisted in enhancing development,” Botomani explained.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Nation Publications Limited, Alfred Ntonga, hailed the minister for the visit and assured him that as a media house, they will continue to be objective, fair and factual in their reporting.
Ntonga said fake news and negative reporting has no place at the institution and reporters are fully aware of what they are supposed to report on which he said must be research based.
“Nation publication always strives for fairness where all parties are given a chance to be heard. Other than that, we also rigorously guide the information that goes into our stories and we don’t defend errors,” said Ntonga.
He added, “We will however consider the observations made by the minister and suffice to say, as Nation newspaper, we already have desks such as advocacy, development and investigative desks that we think compliments to governments efforts.”
Editor in Chief for Times Media Group, George Kasakula concurred with Ntonga saying the media house will ensure objectivity, fairness and facture in its presentation of news.
“It is always encouraging for a minister to visit us and we discussed a number of challenges that am sure will be addressed,” Kasakula said.
Among other areas, Botomani visited newsrooms, newspaper production centres and offices for various officers.
Reported by Solister Mogha, Malawi News Agency