Headline Matters with Chambwa: Dora and dollars

Are journalists indisposed to criticism? It’s difficult to give an all-encompassing response. But I’m a journalist, of half a decade. So my understanding of the Zambian media setting can’t be that impaired.

Let’s assume that journalists, in Zambia, are crazily sensitive to criticism. Shouldn’t I go ahead to write what is in my mind? No! I will. After all, journalists, at least most of them, cheer at finding critical stuff to report about others. Why not them being at the other end? I must, however, hasten to mention that I’m not seeking to impress and madden any authority with this article. Equally, I don’t want to do any of that to journalists. They are comrades, after all.

I’m aware that this column is not read by only journalists. Others do. But how else can I communicate if I worry so much about who is eavesdropping! I’ll say it here, ba media. But before I say what I have to say, read an edited story of MY Dora Siliya – the information and broadcasting services minister.

She says: Journalism has been invaded by quacks.
Siliya says there is a lot of corruption in the media.
The chief government spokesperson said this when she donated a motor vehicle to the Livingstone Press Club, in Livingstone, on Monday October 28, 2019.

“Those in engineering, medicine, economics, law have undergone clear training, but that is NOT the case for journalists. Journalism has been invaded by QUACKS,” said Siliya.
She indicated that media and journalism were two different things.

Siliya added that the government had an interest to protect Zambians through good standard journalism.
“Journalists have the bigger power. They can help build or destroy the nation. Sometimes they have to be tough, strong-willed about things that are wrong in the government, private sector, families, in the opposition,” she said.

“This requires someone with a specific type of TRAINING. So they can be above everyone else. They should be above political, social and cultural issues.”

Siliya stressed that journalists needed specific type of training to rise above everyone else in society.
“Receipt of PAYMENT by journalists is downright CORRUPTION. There’s a lot of CORRUPTION in the media fraternity. SOURCES are based on who has PAID….” said Siliya.

“Journalists tilt stories according to who has PAID…We form the cultural, social, economic fabric of society but do not realise the importance of our role as gate keepers.”

Should Dora be hated for saying that TRUTH openly? No! Yes, journalists, like other professionals, need to EAT, or to survive, if you want to be mild or euphemistic. But what about being decent in striving for that? I’m not oblivious to how those who indecently ‘clamour for goodies in the field’ can be to anyone who points out their shameful acts. Usually, the fellows have nothing to do with journalism profession, by training. So, they can dent it willy-nilly, and quickly turn into bullies when “owners” of the profession raise eyebrows. Wait and see!
Certainly, money (transport refund) is needed for ease of operations. But someone has to tell me if the same is indispensable! Collection matters! I can’t be an egg-head person on this divisive matter but I have a position and that position is that we can be DECENT in our dealings as journalists. I’m addressing REAL journalists and not QUACKS! Yes, if its criticism against me, it must come from REAL journalists and I’ll be proud to receive your feedback.

Journalists (from the private and public media as well as freelancers) can conduct their business in the field with an iota of self-respect or some necessary pride, if you don’t mind. And yes, ba Dora, journalism is and must be a preserve of those with the necessary training. It’s not for all and sundry! By opening the floodgates for every Jim and Jack to be a journalist who “DEMANDS” for ‘dollars,’ like what Dora is saying, the journalism profession has been soiled. Quacks! Why haven’t those elements invaded the law, medicine, engineering, teaching, marketing and other fraternities? Maybe WE (non-quacks) have entertained them! So, what do I want to prevail in the journalism profession in Zambia? DECENCY, DECENCY AND DECENCY!

Let journalists command some respect as people who primarily go to events for NEWS and not otherwise. If we don’t redeem ourselves, Dora will continue linking us to dollars. Somewhat justifiably so! But the storyline can change to be ‘journalists versus news and Dora versus quacks.’ Let’s show journalistic behaviour and give Dora energy to fall on quacks.

The bar into Zambian journalism is too low. The profession is about communication, unlike this FAME AND SHAME mission that has taken centre stage. Ba Dora, we may professionally strive for dollars but we want to do so DECENTLY. Engaging into any other method to earn survival means should be for SILLIER, quack ‘journalists’ But all the same, thank you for the condemnatory advice. I found sense in it! High five or p.e.r.k, Dora!

For the next version of Headline Matters, check The Mast on Sunday. For reactions, text only to: +26 0977-238451
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