A free media keeps govt in check – journalism trainer

A FREE media keeps the government honest, says an American journalism consultant.

In an interview at the end of a two-day Investigative Reporting Training organised by the US Embassy in Livingstone last week, Lucinda Fleeson, who is an International Journalism Trainer under the US Department of State, advised journalists to dig deeper to get information needed by the community.

“A free media keeps the government honest and that is why it is so important; it provides a kind of ability that is not provided. I know that we have a lot of watchdog groups but a journalist really gets
behind what happens and explains it in a better way,” Fleeson said.

She, however, said she had heard that statistically in the 1960s and 1970s, there were only 25 democracies worldwide but there were now over 125, a lot of which were in Africa.

“So we are actually making progress as a global community. But you as reporters you know this. What you hear coming out as official everyday
is not always the entire story and it’s our job to follow it to the conclusion of how that policy affects the ordinary citizen; is that money being well spent?You do a good job of tracking down,” Fleeson

She further encouraged journalists to pursue investigative journalism by digging a little deeper to get information.

Fleeson, who has held training workshops in investigative reporting, financial crimes, election reporting, features and narrative writing in countries such as Lesotho, Malawi and Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Armenia, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Kosovo, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, said journalists needed to look at what comes out of the pipeline in terms of service delivery and interrogate how this affected citizens positively or negatively.

“You need to look at what is not right,” she said.

Asked about corruption in Africa, Fleeson said she was happy that with the recent prosecutions that had been happening on the continent, there was hope of a good future.

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