MISA should take lead in depolarising Zimbabwean media

The Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Professor Jonathan Moyo has implored MISA-Zimbabwe to be the lead mediating organisation in depolarising the Zimbabwean media landscape.

Jonathan Moyo
Jonathan Moyo

Professor Moyo who was speaking in Harare on 27 March 2014 during the launch of MISA-Zimbabwe's findings into communities' access to and perceptions on the Zimbabwean media, condemned newspaper columnists that attack fellow media practitioners.

"We still have columnists that attack fellow media practitioners.

This is unprofessional … that is banana republic staff, that is not good as this contributes to polarisation," he said.

For instance, he said, the Washington Post would never attack the New York Times.

He said the media should be seen to be reaching out among themselves adding that MISA-Zimbabwe should thus play a media mediating role in that regard.

He noted, however, that this was beginning to manifest with the public media increasingly participating in what was previously the preserve of the private media.

"I think MISA has a particular and special role to play (in bridging the media divide) as a media mediating institution," said Professor Moyo.

The Minister agreed with MISA-Zimbabwe's national director Nhlanhla Ngwenya on the need to depoliticise the media as recommended in the findings of the study conducted by the organisation.

The research was conducted in October-December 2013 to gauge the forms of media some communities accessed for information and their thoughts on the quality of information they accessed. It also looked into priority areas in developing the media and enhancing access to information in marginalised areas.

Discussions with members of the respective communities of about 522 people were held in Gokwe, Rusape, Bikita, Lalapansi, Domboshava, Mhondoro, Chitungwiza, Chipinge, Silobela, Ntabazinduna, Tsholotsho, Victoria Falls, St Peters (outside Bulawayo), UMzinyathi, Binga and Mutoko.

Turning to the findings in the publication, Communities' access to & perceptions on the media in Zimbabwe, he described it as a clearly and well-grounded study that could help in informing policy as well as assisting in the work of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI).

On concerns by marginalised communities that the mainstream media's news content was too politicised and partisan at the expense of socio-economic issues, he said if this was the reason for polarisation of not just the media , but communities in general, that should be addressed.

" I am pleased that the communities are beginning to say 'give us a break' we cannot eat and drink politics every day," he said.

Professor Moyo said there was need to train and equip the media with skills that would enable journalists to write socio-economic, cultural and drama stories in order to tell the whole spectrum of the human experience.

The minister also took opportunity of the launch to state that the time had come for the launch of community radio stations in Zimbabwe, but that there was need to come up with a workable concept on what defines a community.

He said this is the issue that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is grappling with and struggling to unpack.

Professor Moyo reiterated and acknowledged the need to align the country's media laws with the new constitutional provisions on freedom of expression , media freedom and access to information, subject to the conclusion and findings of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) work.

IMPI is still to start its work following the appointment of some of its panellists in December last year.

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