Government urges scribes to stick to the truth

Government has urged media practitioners in the country to stick to the truth in their reporting saying it is only the truth that will guarantee them freedom and protection. Information and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Poniso Njeulu warned media houses and practitioners who want to thrive on lies and malicious gossip that they will be known for what they are and people will shun their news apart from being sued by those offended.
Mr. Njeulu was speaking during the media stakeholders conference as part of activities to commemorate the 2014 World Press Freedom Day held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
He said government will endeavor to support freedom of information and not freedom of misinformation.
And Mr Njeulu said the media in the country is undergoing a major transformation and hence the need for all stakeholders to understand the process and move along.
He said the vision of the government is to have a free, ethical and socially responsible media.
Mr Njeulu said the vision will require the participation of all stakeholders for it to become a reality, stressing that every stakeholder has a part to play.
He said government under the leadership of President Michael Sata has put several measures in place to ensure that the media is free, ethical and socially responsible.
Mr Njeulu noted that before the PF came into office, the public media, in particular, had become a propaganda tool for the then party in government.
The Deputy Minister said this scenario has completely changed as opposition political parties and other stakeholders in the governance system are now having a fair share of coverage in the public media.
He also stated that government is working tirelessly to create a favourable environment for the private media to flourish.
He said the long awaited Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the Zambia Media Council, a non-statutory and self regulatory body formed by journalists, are now a reality.
Mr Njeulu said government has also liberalized the airwaves resulting in over 70 community and commercial radio stations and more than 10 television stations countrywide.
He further stated that government remains committed to enacting the Access to Information (ATI) Bill and that the process is currently underway, adding that the process may seem to delay but will not be derailed.
Speaking earlier, World Press Freedom Day National Organizing Committee Chairperson Henry Kabwe commended government for working tirelessly to ensure that people in the country have access to information.
Mr Kabwe expressed happiness to note that nearly all the districts in the country have a community radio station where people are able to gather information for them to embrace development.
He underscored the importance of promoting advocacy journalism which he said was cardinal in taking the country to higher heights.
Meanwhile, Radio Phoenix Chairman Erol Hickey bemoaned the lack of media training for journalists in the country.