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JOURNALISTS should challenge misinformation and other harmful content, Government has said.

Government lamented that there was currently more misinformation on online platforms than there is verified and reliable information.

Information and Broadcasting Services and chief government spokesperson, Dora Siliya said the country was facing a rise in misinformation, cyber bullying and hate speech.

Ms Siliya said during the launch of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day under the theme “Information as a Public Good” that in Zambia, the information landscape had undergone tremendous changes, especially with the advent of the Internet and social media.

She said ordinary Zambians now had a wide range of opportunities to express themselves, stay informed and connect with others, both at home and abroad.

Ms Siliya said the theme called for the attention of the role of professional journalists in producing and disseminating information without misinformation and other harmful content. 

She said the country needed journalists who would challenge misinformation and other harmful content, both on online and offline.

“Government is desirous to see journalists identify themselves as professionals and develop a clear code of ethics and conduct for themselves.

“For a long time other professionals have come together to make rules for journalists to follow in the practice of journalism. Journalists themselves have for a long time not succeeded in coming together as a professional body so that they are able to set their own rules and standards. What we see is other professionals such as lawyers coming together and making rules of how journalists should cover legal issues, doctors coming together and making rules of how journalists should cover medical issues, and engineers making rules on how journalists should cover engineering issues,” Ms Siliya said.

She said there were too many laws, scattered in various statutes, impacting on the practice of journalism.

Ms Siliya said the practice had to end but only when journalists come together as one body that does not discriminate on the basis of whether one works for a private or public media house.

She however expressed happiness that for the first time in the history of the country, journalists had made headway in coming up with a self-regulatory mechanism.

Ms Siliya said the process to enact the Zambia Media Council Bill which seeks to establish a self-regulatory body for the media had since advanced and would soon become law.

She also noted that some journalists had tended to incline themselves to certain individuals or political parties at the expense of objectivity and professionalism which were some of the key tenets of good journalism. 

“This has potential to divide the country especially during national undertakings such as elections,” she said.

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