Media practitioners must report factual and accurate information on the Covid-19 pandemic in order to help citizens make informed decisions.
These remarks were made by Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) coordinator Nigel Nyamutumbu during the launch of a reporting guideline to assist media practitioners on their coverage of the pandemic, Tuesday.
The guideline was compiled by Media Studies Lecturer at Lupane State University and Sunday News Editor, Limukani Ncube, with support from the European Union and from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
“The media has to remain professional all the time and avoid speculation and stick to verified information from Government officials and the Ministry of Health and Child Care which collates all information from across the country on a daily basis,” Nyamutumbu said.
“We want to strengthen the reportage of the pandemic with particular reference to fake news, misinformation and other related challenges faced by journalists. The guidelines contained herein highlight how the sustainability of the industry has been affected by the pandemic as well as how the safety and security of journalists has been affected.”
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe Executive Director, Loughty Dube, while addressing journalists at the launch emphasised on the importance of media practitioners in times of crisis in order to keep the public informed.
Dube said despite the situation, journalists are mandated to give accurate, factual reportage and they have to uphold journalism ethics.
“It is important for journalists to ensure that in times of crisis, especially a health crisis, they disseminate accurate information timeously in order to save people’s lives. Quick information dissemination helps to curb the spread of the disease by helping to sensitise communities, alerting policymakers and helping in driving a positive behavioural change,” Dube said.
Journalists who attended the launch said there is a lot of red tape around the pandemic which makes it difficult for them to access information in time.
They also lamented that there are limited sources who are ‘cleared’ to communicate with the media pertaining to the virus.