GOVERNMENT has implored journalists to maintain their independence from politicians to enhance balance and fairness in election coverage.
In a speech read on her behalf by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana at a recent elections and media workshop held in Bulawayo, minister Monica Mutsvangwa said by presenting a fair portrayal of candidates and their platforms, journalists contribute to an informed electorate, which is a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy.
“Hate speech and inflammatory reporting have no place in responsible election reporting. Journalists must desist from being political adventists,” she said.
“Stretch and split journalism must be shunned as it compromises the quality of news reporting. This commitment to fairness is what sets professional journalists apart from mere commentary propaganda.
“There is always a danger that the political parties would want to manipulate you to make you their mouthpiece, but you should always stick to the values of your profession.”
Mutsvangwa also encouraged journalists to uphold professional and ethical standards to enable the public to make informed decisions when voting.
“As professional journalists, you should be guided by the commitment to uphold and provide balanced coverage and refrain from sensationalism,” she said.
“It is your responsibility to diligently uphold the principles of ethics, fairness and impartiality when reporting on elections.”
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) executive secretary Godwin Phiri said all accredited journalists could cover elections, but they required accreditation from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to access polling stations.
“Zec does not accredit journalists. Zec accredits observers. ZMC accredits journalists. Zec accredits journalists as observers. Those are two different functions. With the observer accreditation, journalists have access to the polling station,” Phiri said.
“Any other journalists who have not been accredited by Zec can cover elections anywhere, but cannot access the polling station because Zec needs to account for who comes into polling stations.”
During the workshop, journalists from various media organisations signed peace pledges, promising to uphold peace in their coverage during the elections period.