Joint Press Statement by Zambia Free Press Initiative (ZFPI) and Media Owners Association of Zambia (MOAZ)
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE FREE PRESS INITIATIVE AND MEDIA OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA ON THE NEED FOR JOURNALISTS TO BE ACCORDED A SAFE AND DIGNIFIED ENVIRONMENT DURING COVERAGE OF STATE FUNCTIONS
By Joan Chirwa -FPI Founder and
Costa Mwansa-MOAZ President
The Zambia Free Press Initiative, a non-profit media organization that advocates for press freedom, excellence in journalism and respect for human rights, and the Media Owners Association of Zambia are in receipt of numerous complaints from journalists on the poor treatment they are made to endure during coverage of state functions.
Some of the complaints raised include lack of seats for journalists during press conferences at State House, restriction in placement of cameras and selective taking of questions from journalists.
We find this very concerning and extremely sad. As you are all know, information is the lifeblood of any democracy. The role of journalists as truth-seekers and storytellers cannot be overstated. A fundamental aspect of journalism is ensuring that journalists have access to accurate, timely, and reliable information, allowing them to serve as the Fourth Estate, holding those in power accountable.
To that end, the FPI and MOAZ emphasize the need to accord dignity and respect to journalists during press briefings by the creation of front-row seats for them and allow them to ask questions exhaustively.
In today’s fast-paced digital age, the role of journalists in disseminating news and keeping the public informed is more crucial than ever. Journalists work tirelessly to ask tough questions, investigate matters of public interest, and provide the public with the unvarnished truth. They are often the bridge between the government, public officials, and the general populace. Ensuring they can carry out their duties effectively is therefore imperative to the health of our democracy.
However, those responsible for ensuring that journalists are given the respect they deserve seem to be overlooking the critical role that journalists play in society in order to promote democracy. By so doing, this entails that the role of journalists in Zambia is not being respected.
One would wonder, then, that if journalists are not given respect and opportunities to ask at these critical events, why are they invited?
It is owing to these concerns that WE DEMAND:
1. That the very important work of journalists be respected.
2. That public officials, government agencies, and organizations begin to provide suitable work spaces when journalists are invited to state events. Creating front row seats for journalists during press conferences not only symbolizes the role of journalists as key players in our democracy but also enhances their ability to engage with speakers, ask questions, and document events. By placing journalists at the forefront, we acknowledge their vital role and contribution to the public discourse.
3. That there be recognition that the ability of journalists to perform their jobs effectively is directly tied to their access to government and official press briefings.
Those in charge of organizing press events must know that journalists play a vital role in scrutinizing and informing the public about the actions of government, institutions, and individuals. Therefore, our demands for respect for their work and understanding of the importance of their role is essential.
We take this opportunity to further call on all stakeholders to respect the independence and integrity of journalists, free from intimidation, harassment, or undue pressure. An environment of respect is crucial for fostering open dialogue and upholding the principles of a free press.
In conclusion, we want to restate that a free press is an integral pillar of democracy. Journalists serve as the watchdogs of our society, and their ability to report, question, and investigate is vital for the informed citizenry. By creating front-row seats for journalists during press conferences, the state will contribute to the strengthening of our democratic institutions and ensure the public remains well informed.
We remain committed to advocating for the rights of journalists and we encourage all relevant parties to join in this endeavor. We believe that by working together to support journalism, we can uphold the values of transparency, accountability, and media freedom in our society.
Joan Chirwa -FPI Founder and
Costa Mwansa-MOAZ President