Sunday, January 12, 2014
Malawi Editors Forum Statement on State House's TREATMENT OF Joy Radio
Sunday, January 12, 2014
MALAWI EDITORS FORUM (MAEF)
COMPLAINT FROM JOY RADIO
The Malawi Editors Forum (MAEF) has received a complaint from Joy Radio Limited against State House regarding the manner in which it handled its press conference on Tuesday, 7th January 2014 at Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in Blantyre.
It is the view of the radio station that it was wrong for State House to personalise its Press Review programme by mentioning names of the presenters because that exposed them to danger.
The station also views the approach as intimidation “of the highest order” and claims to have information suggesting that “party zealots” are planning to harass Joy Radio journalists whenever they meet them.
MAEF would like to inform the public that it has since engaged the Presidential Advisor on Politics and Communication, Mr Elias Wakuda Kamanga, who held the press conference in question, to get his side of the story and his view is that while he fully understands the concerns, Joy Radio was only cited as an example and not necessarily targeted.
Mr Wakuda Kamanga also reiterated the stand he presented at the press conference that State House and, indeed, government has no intentions to intimidate or frustrate the media because it is regarded as an important organ in furthering democracy and promoting government programmes.
Mr Wakuda Kamanga also pointed out the need for formal interaction between State House and the country’s media organisations to agree on some common ground and possible ways of handling similar misunderstandings in future apart from the policy structures that are featured on the country’s radio stations.
MAEF would like to emphasise that the country has several media bodies where people, institutions or organisations can refer their grievances if they are offended by the conduct of any media house or practitioner. There are functional structures within the media which have the capacity to help correct errant media conduct and these should be explored at every opportunity.
MAEF also feels messages from State House, and government in general, need to be presented carefully and with a lot of sensitivity to avoid sending the wrong message to the public. In an election period like this one when emotions are bound to run high, government must avoid any suggestions that it is targeting some media houses or individuals because that exposes such people to danger and government may be held responsible for any mishap befalling those people.
MAEF stands for both professionalism and media freedom as a democratic value in Malawi and is ready to mediate where there are differences between media houses and any member of the public, including State House.
CLIFTON KAWANGA, CHAIRPERSON
GRACIAN TUKULA, SECRETARY GENERAL