Journalists urged to report responsibly during elections

Journalists have the mandate to report responsibly in a manner that would promote peace in societies, especially during the election period, a human rights organisation has stated. 

The National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe (NTJWG) urged journalists to promote peace in their coverage of various events. 

Speaking to journalists and members of CSOs, Wellington Nkawu, NTJWG Survivor’s Representative, said it is important for journalists to stick to journalism ethics and practice responsible coverage. 

“As journalists, we need to stick to our ethics when we are reporting on issues happening in different parts of the country. Above all let us maintain peace because peace starts with me and you and with all of us. We do know that there are a lot of activities that we are going to come across on the ground that may otherwise jeopardise your duty or your job as a media practitioner. However, we are reiterating that there be peace throughout the election season,” he said. 

“When we report let us report what is truthful, let us report what is not going to incite violence in the communities instead, let us promote peace and harmony. We live in a peaceful country and we need to maintain. Where there is violence there is no development, and it promotes hatred amongst the citizens. Political parties and supporters should also uphold peace. Let us not fight. Having different political views is not a bad thing. Let us learn to co-exist and accept one another,” 

Communication specialist for Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Everson Mushava, said it is important for journalists to be mindful of their diction and tone when reporting to avoid perpetuating violence. 

“As journalists, we need to be responsible in our coverage. We play an important role in building and promoting peace. The choice of words we use in our stories, and the tone of our stories, can either promote peace or cause conflict among people. Instead of writing articles that may cause conflict, why not take authorities to task over certain statements they make and make them see the light on the dangers of saying things that may cause unrest?” he said. 

NTJWG is putting together a peace reporting manual set to provide guidelines for media practitioners on how to promote peace reporting. 

“Peace Journalism is a practice in which editors and reporters make choices that improve the prospects for peace. These choices, including how to frame stories and carefully choose which words are used, create an atmosphere conducive to peace and supportive of peace initiatives and peacemakers without compromising the basic principles of good journalism. Peace Journalism gives peacemakers a voice, making peace initiatives and non-violent solutions more visible and viable,” the manual reads.

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