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Free Press Require Independent, Fearless and Balanced Journalism – FPI

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A free press will only be guaranteed by a coordinated global effort in raising awareness about the necessity of independent, fearless, and balanced journalism, the Free Press Initiative (FPI) has charged.

In a press statement to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day, FPI Founder and Coordinator, Joan Chirwa, said the growing intolerance to an independent and free press by leaders around the world was troubling.

“On the other hand, governments and society have continued to raise concerns, genuine in some cases, of the proliferation of media houses which favour some views and stifle sentiments which do not align with the agenda of media owners or shareholders,” said Chirwa.

Ms. Chirwa said while journalists around the world are still able to practice freely and independently in fulfilling their roles as the fourth estate, many journalists face untold difficulties, with massive pressure and threats emanating mainly from governments that use state institutions to ‘punish’ those seen to be critical.

“In some cases, media institutions are being closed for reasons that only require dialogue – this can be said of last month’s closure of private television station, Prime TV,” she said.

Ms. Chirwa has since counseled journalists, media heads, and owners to pay attention to the basics in journalism that do not promote or favour one view against the other in pursuit of “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”.

Below is a full statement from the Free Press Initiative

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY STATEMENT BY THE FPI ZAMBIA

The press needs freedom in reality, not on paper!

Lusaka, Zambia – May 3, 2020

Journalists around the world today commemorate Press Freedom Day, an occasion that accords all of us a chance to remind governments and citizens of the importance of a free press and independent journalism.

While some of our colleagues around the world are still able to practice freely and independently in fulfilling their roles as the fourth estate, many journalists face untold difficulties, with massive pressure and threats emanating mainly from governments that use state institutions to ‘punish’ those seen to be critical.

With this going on, the FPI believes a free press can and will only be guaranteed by a coordinated global effort in raising awareness about the necessity of independent, fearless, and balanced journalism, in line with this year’s theme, which is “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”.

However, what is troubling, on one hand, is the growing intolerance to an independent and free press by leaders around the world, with little effort being made to guarantee their safety and protection from political and commercial influence. On the other hand, governments and society have continued to raise concerns, genuine in some cases, of the proliferation of media houses which favour some views and stifle sentiments that do not align with the agenda of media owners or shareholders.

In some cases, media institutions are being closed for reasons that only require dialogue – this can be said of last month’s closure of private television station, Prime TV, and The Post some four years ago.

We deeply sympathise with our colleagues at Prime TV, the latest victims of the government’s heavy-handedness. Such injustices to press freedom make it very difficult for us to celebrate this day; we instead grieve for our profession.

In worst scenarios, our friends have been killed in the line of duty. So far, six journalists have been killed (from Iraq to Paraguay, Somalia to Syria) in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Here in Zambia, in August, 2019, our colleague, Humphrey Nkonde, went missing and was later found buried in a shallow grave. The cause of his death remains unclear to this day as the police have kept secret the post-mortem results. Whether or not his death was a result of his job is something that is yet to be proved. For now, we can only remind the police that we have not forgotten about Humphrey!

Our noble profession today faces new challenges at a time the world needs it the most – the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a crisis that has thrown the entire world into disarray as everyone has turned to credible media for accurate, verified, and life-saving information. Many sacrifices have been made by the media in Zambia during this time in trying to fulfill their role, yet revenues have plummeted. This situation has thrown a heavy burden on many media houses as they wade through this rough patch while keeping their operations going.

Our hope as FPI is that the truly independent media that relies only on its business of selling news and not hand-outs from political sponsors will survive this period and continue to play its huge role of giving citizens credible information.

Our firm stance is that a genuinely independent press in Zambia and the rest of the world needs support now more than ever before for society’s benefit for them to practice without fear. We need press freedom in reality, not on paper!

Lastly, our counsel to fellow journalists, media heads, and owners is that they must pay attention to the basics in journalism that do not promote or favour one view against the other.

Issued by
Joan Chirwa
Free Press Initiative (FPI) Zambia Founder and Coordinator

32 COMMENTS

  1. God bless you Joan my former boss. We still miss you. You strong lady and this balanced statement attests to your objectivity!

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  2. Media bias needs to end. Prime TV and post brought those pains on themselves. Post has reincernated through Diggers

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  3. Stand up for Zambia? Can you expect a free press with such productions? Pressmen and women must also put their house in order. Some journalists are just criminals. Even Mwansa Kapeya with a Form V certificate can produce better articles that Dr Dora Siliya aka Mrs Mulyokela

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  4. Free press is absolutely not inflammatory, greedy, unprofessional, bigoted, corrupt, pompous, uncorroborated, insulting, screwed, twisted, immoral, emotional, racy and over board.
    True free press ought to be ethical not divisive. Corrupt free.
    Governments will always protest disgruntled media houses.
    I loathe half truth press.
    I detest false reporters.
    I abhor misinformers and misleaders.

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    • When the traditional press is gagged, humans resort to coded communication through informal media channels, the Arab spring is one example, even when the leaders had a iron grip on all media, people resorted to simple texting of messages, bang the leaders didn’t even know what hit them.

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  5. press has muzzled itself in Zambia by taking political sides. Just look at path your friend at News Digger. Even in USA, President DT isn’t missing his words on Fake! fake! Fake! We need responsible journalism

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  6. Lungu ,

    You can shut down all critical media in Zambia , bit you are being rinsed on
    face book and other internet based media.

    There is Koswe and others on the the internet.

    Let’s see you shut down the internet.

    As we approach 2021 , opposition must be reminded to invest in concelled video recording devices. These are cheap , under $50.

    Video footage of lungus appittite for political violence on social media will do great untold damage to those who thrive on democratic oppression.

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  7. In 1906, an English author, Evelyn Beatrice Hall originated what Voltaire is now said to have authored. She said:

    “Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”

    Wish the media in Zambia can adopt same attitude when covering news. Prime stopped covering anyone who seemingly appeared to support govt. Same way Diggers is doing it.

    That’s folly with our traditional media today. But now we infested with quacks who run Facebook pages. The problem is bigger now. If all media, including ZNBC, gave equal coverage to everyone, we would be better place. Only on Lusaka Times will you find balanced coverage these days.

    Happy Press Freedom Day!

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  8. Balanced views!

    Point is media must be fearless but not biased to favour one side. Case of ZNBC, Prime TV, Mast, Diggers, Times, Daily Mail. All suffer from same disease!

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  9. Joan u powerful woman. You speak sense but too much wisdom will kill you in this country. Our media owners don’t like this wisdom; out Government don’t like this wisdom; our donors don’t like this wisdom; our NGOs don’t like this wisdom. In words of George W. Bush, if you not with us, you on the other side – the axis of evil.

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  10. OK fellow country men and women, I have had time to reflect on my behaviour and attitude over the last few months. I have come to realize that sometimes I have been unfairly harsh on my fellow citizens, particularly those who hold opposite views from those of my PF government. I have derided our citizens who live in the Diaspora and called them all sorts of unpleasant names. I would like to seek forgiveness for my behaviour. Please forgive me, and I genuinely mean this.
    I have been a victim of blackmail by my former employers and I don’t want to say a lot because I don’t want to put family in danger. But basically I was gagged and threatened with jail time from allegations of corruption and other crimes if I didn’t appear to sing the song of my PF government. So I resorted to write…

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  11. So I resorted to writing bad things about many of you to please them. Obviously everyone knows my wife lives in the UK and so I wouldn’t hate those in the Diaspora. It was all pretend and phoney.
    I hope you understand and forgive me. Let us unite and build this country for a better tomorrow.

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  12. I thought I should pitch in here before we burn each other over press freedom etc. First from a social psychological point of view, it is impossible to have a press that is 100% objective in its reporting especially on matters political. But since every profession has an ethical code of conduct, the governing body can take it upon themselves to enforce this code and punish whoever is in violation. As for the private media, enforcing the ethical code will be a challenge because some of these media houses are funded or owned by PEPs (politically exposed persons). But the main question on the table is that, should we allow these private media houses to continue operating even though we know that their coverage is skewed? The answer is a definite yes. Why? Because in our constitution, we have…

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  13. ….The answer is a definite yes. Why? Because in our constitution, we have a freedom of speech clause. The onus is also on the public media houses to excercise objectivity because they are the flag bearers of the profession in society. Happy world press freedom day.

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  14. Freedom of press is not the love of money how do you expect the journalits to report postive development that this govt is doing yet some are on double payroll, its some opposition parties who are making their work difficult by offerin them money.

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  15. Madam Joan speaking sense. As we celebrate Press Freedom Day, will read the many cries of media against government. But Jesus, on Matthew 7 verse 5 said –

    You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    This metaphor is more applicable today to the media and government alike. The media is acting like that person with a plank in its own eye who criticizes government for a speck in its eye. Day in and out, we shall hear of Government intolerance but what about your own intolerance and bias as media?

    Jesus argued that one must first remove the plank before going on to remove the speck. Just look at Watchdog, Koswe, Prime, Diggers, Mast, and all public media. Same WhatsApp group

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  16. When last was HH or Chipenzi covered on ZNBC? When last was Ntewewe or Peter Chanda covered on News Diggers?

  17. Let’s face it, Prime t.v.were extremely reckless in the coverage of Covid – 19. Their reporters behaved like they carried test kits to determine who had and who did not have the virus. They instilling fear in citizens which could have easily resulted in killing suspects without cause just as it happened with gassing. Only on this score I think it was necessary to stop them.

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  18. The equation is simple. He who has gold makes the rules! The only problem is if public media becomes biased. All those paying taxes are betrayed by the service they pay for if public media is biased. In Zambia the lowest level of professionalism is in public media. Private media will answer to its masters and if public media is responsible enough private media may start following suite because the market will sway people to media with moderated views. Advertising and other follow viewership or readership statistics of media. Currently all is rotten in Zambia and not being helped by agents of GRZ in the name of IBA

  19. KZ

    What have you eaten ?

    I would be exterimlly supprised if you have adopt this stance contrally to your public image….

  20. Very objective press statement – find time to offer in house training to some media institutions.

  21. A strong democracy should have a balanced media. It is not possible to find this in one media house! You need several and on balance they help moderate the ultimate information that goes out. First step is to make public media more autonomous both financially and news and private media will learn from them

  22. The sayin goes”if a frog comes out of water and tells you the crocodile is dead, do not refute” muvi tv propriter steve told the nation that hh is killed his media and he warned mr shawa not to be used by hh, where were you madam? hh and the opposition are killing the media. Blood is on the hands of those fake media houses which led to instant mob justitce during gasin period because of their useless reporting.

  23. Spaka I am sure you can tell that is my diasporan clone based in south Africa. My VPN will always be a United kingdom one. At least he can articulate himself better than most in south Africa. Back to the article. This is good advice to the likes of prime TV. You can’t call yourself a journalist while cooking up politically charged and biased news. It is not journalism to insult a ruling government day in day out and then not to expect a repercussion. I believe we need to regulate media houses more by increasing taxes they pay to flush out the useless ones who are easily bought by upnd. Also I will ensure we ban access to watchdog in Zambia. Kz

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  24. Nickson you are right. That boy shawa thought he was the man. He thought being funded by hh offered him immunity to do as he pleased. That is a man who lacks integrity. We can’t have such people peddling fake news in our country. I am working on a very comprehensive proposal for legislation to regulate media more in Zambia. Kz

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  25. What Joan distinctive is that she suffered persecution first hand, she must know what it means to close a media but more importantly too she knows how media owners can dangerously be biased to the detriment of an individual reporter. She has more right to lecture both Government and media owners

  26. For example I have just been informed that Zambia watchdog has posted a video of me in a boat alleging that I am breaking social distance rules and yet there is no evidence of when that video was taken. Gutter journalism

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  27. It’s called a comfort zone, wait for COVID-2021 and see how the overconfident and bungling politicians will cry like when they are abandoned. Some will learn that money does not buy everything, especially votes. God also has his way of correcting things regardless of how much utusaka twandalama politicians spend.
    …countdown 15 month to go…..

  28. God, why are Zambian women not beautiful but are similar to those in Uganda and not similar to those in Rwanda?

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  29. Abena ngumbo to us our women are beautiful. We know there in diaspora you are used to only being able to get with abasungu abayina. Fat women. So to you, you will view this woman as ugly because she is out of your league. Continue dating old women there in diaspora for papers. Kz

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