THE Media Owners Association of Zambia says it is never a good thing to close down a media institution.
And MOAZ has observed that some media training institutions in the country are producing low-quality journalists.
Media Owners Association of Zambia (MOAZ) vice-president Kenny Tonga, who featured on Hot FM radio’s Hot Seat programme on yesterday, Tonga said no media institution deserved to be closed by the government, no matter the ‘wrongs’ committed.
He said MOAZ felt that resorting to closure of any media institution was “not the best way to go”.
“We are hoping that with the setting up of the association, we’ll be able to create a platform of dialogue. It’s never a good thing [to close down media institutions] regardless of what one has done because they have got contractual obligations. We are not happy about the situation and the fact that MOAZ is here now, we are hoping we’ll be able to create a channel of communication,” Tonga said.
And Tonga emphasised the need for suitable training and re-training of media practitioners.
“There are organisations, both local and international, that are interested in the training of media. But you see, it’s difficult for them to start dealing with individual media institutions and for us, it was a situation where we thought that this creates an opportunity to have one united voice. So, the issue is that those who are not our members, we are hoping that one day they will see the need to be part of the association. It will be a very bad business decision not to be part of an association like this one,” said Tonga, the proprietor of Lusaka’s Power FM radio.
“Just a few days ago, the president (Oscar Chavula) and myself went and visited one of the journalism training centres to sort of engage them. We are hoping to do a tour of the place to try and understand what is really going on there because other than just the issue of harassment of journalists, there is also the issue where sometimes the quality of journalists that are being trained in some institutions is not up to standard. You can speak to veteran journalists and they will be like half-baked.”
And FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza, who phoned-in during the programme, commiserated with private media’s operational hardships.
“First of all, I would like to commend you people who are working with the private media for the good work that you are doing of providing an alternative platform where divergent views can be heard. We know that you are working under very difficult circumstances because I have been to radio stations where after a radio programme, the presenters, editors or owners of radio stations have been called by the ‘red brick’ to say ‘give us the tape of that programme, why did you host that man there’ -there is a lot of intimidation and suppression against the independent media in this country,” Mwanza noted.
“We understand that it’s difficult to run a media house and we understand all those difficulties and challenges that you are going through. We also strongly believe that the welfare of journalists leaves much to be desired. I have brought a lot of complaints with MISA-Zambia and I’m happy that we now have an association of media owners to look at the plight of journalists. I deal with journalists on a daily basis – that’s my work as the spokesperson for FDD.”
He further observed that the quality of investigative journalism in Zambia had been endangered due to waning specialised reporting.
“There is need to invest in the human resource development so that we can have journalists that are professional in certain spheres. What we are seeing is where one journalist is reading news, the next thing they are covering sports, the next day they are covering court cases and the other day they are assigned to cover economic issues. As a result, we have compromised the quality of investigative concepts of journalism! There is need for media houses also to invest in training and re-training in terms of special skills,” advised Mwanza. JC