The media referred to as the fourth estate after the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, has a critical role to play. Journalists regardless of the media house they work for, have one mandate which is to inform, educate and entertain.
Society therefore looks up to journalists to execute this mandate without fear or favour and for journalists to succeed it is important to uphold ethics of the profession. Journalists who decide to write falsehoods are not just an embarassment to the profession but are short-changing society.
Society can only make informed decisions on issues if it has the correct information and journalists are supposed to assist society to make these informed decisions by providing accurate information. Give society nothing but the truth on any given subject so that it is empowered.
We totally agree with Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Christopher Mushohwe that it is incumbent upon journalists to write stories from credible sources in order to avoid infringing on other people’s rights.
Minister Mushowe said journalists should erase the notion that the Bill of Rights was made for them alone. “If you write a lie about someone, you destroy their reputation and you are likely to face some charges. Let your stories be factual.
The government will not defend wrong things,” he said.
The Minister said freedom of expression was meant for all citizens and everyone should enjoy it with equal measure.
Minister Mushowe has on several occasions since being appointed Information Minister implored journalists to report truthfully and this is one of the cardinal rules of the profession.
We have already alluded to the critical role that the media plays in assisting society to make decisions. The media, it has to be appreciated, can build or destroy so it is important for journalists to understand the influence of the media.
Journalists as mirrors of society should expose the ills of society such as corruption, abuse of vulnerable members of society such as orphans, general crime, poor service delivery in both the public and private sectors and many other such ills. We have numerous cases when authorities have acted on media reports on corruption or theft of public funds and this is as it should be.
Journalists cannot afford to be alarmists as doing so might result in disastrous outcomes too ghastly to contemplate. Constructive criticism of a system is very welcome because its objective is to correct whatever shortcomings have been exposed.
We want to once again implore journalists to protect the profession by upholding its ethics.