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Kenyan urges Zambian journalists to remain professional

KENYA Media Council representative, Victor Bwire has urged journalists to remain professional on online or offline platforms.

And media rights activist and journalism lecturer Kamufisa Manchinshi says many media houses in Zambia are weak when it comes to online safety and security.

During a webinar on free speech, press freedom, safety and security of journalists online with perspectives from Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe organised by Bloggers of Zambia on Thursday, Bwire noted that many journalists were professional people off air.

“A number of us are very professional people off air, we are responsible lawyers, doctors and journalists but once we go to the digital platform, we become very irresponsible people who can even lose the issue of our own reputation and brand,” said Bwire. “What is your brand
online and what is your brand offline? And when we become irresponsible online, what is the level of safety and security of our lives?”

And Manchinshi said journalists should not do things that would compromise their online
safety.

“It is indeed time that we expanded the editorial policy that we include vital platforms that we are using. As media practitioners, we need to get involved in internet governance systems,” he said.

Manchinshi said journalists should know that there were certain things they could not do online.

“We also need to create a certain awareness for ourselves in terms of platforms; which platform is used for which purpose and which one works well? We need to understand that there are certain things you can’t do on twitter and there are certain things which you can’t just do on Facebook which will compromise your safety. So, do we understand those as journalists because we are at a higher risk. In summary, I would say there is need to rethink our editorial policies because for a very long the editorial policy has been understood to us to be about news judgment only, we rarely talk about online safety issues. Safety should be part of the culture for journalists,” he said.

Manchinshi advised journalists to know how best to use certain devices such android phones, IPhones and the like, we need to know which devices are the best to use and which ones have the best encryption and which ones have the most secure software and so on,” he
said.

Manchinshi said journalists should create a platform where they could come up with common practices.

“As an individual, you also need to create your own online network. If you are on twitter, create a following of people who will be able to stand up for you. Some of the audience that benefit from your news can also be part of your support system when you get into issues and we have seen this happening for certain journalists,” he said.

Nigel Nyamutumbu from the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe urged media owners to invest in the safety and security of journalists.

Bloggers of Zambia chief executive officer Richard Mulonga said the training was aimed at looking at how journalists can enhance their capacities and how they could contribute to the growth of the media landscape in Zambia.

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