ZAMBIANS should brace themselves for more severe, savage and downright hate speech intended to achieve regime change in 2016 if not sooner.

The stakes are extremely high. Those who have lost power, patronage and control are determined to reverse their loss. They will do everything to vilify and demonize any impediment that stands in their way to State House control.

Propaganda in its most brazen manner is the mode of choice. The country stands helplessly as the select group of hate purveyors take turns to malign, vilify and spew vitriol at will. Daily the fountain of evil spews unbridled pique.

 Not even the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) that was supposed to safeguard media professionalism from predatory and selfish interest can stem the tide.

ZAMEC was well intended, just as the other media organizations in the country including the Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) that should be concerned with the practice of journalism but both are moribund and totally unable to register their presence in the unfolding cauldron of hate and malice.

As a self regulating body ZAMEC was supposed  to stop journalists from using their professional status as representatives of the public, for selfish or other unworthy motives, which violated public trust.

It is now apparent and very clear that  trust has not only been violated but that  the very media freedom that is intended to promote diversity  has been  abused for sectarian propaganda through hate speech and blatant parading of individuals and institutions of sectarian rather than national interest.

ZAMEC had very high sounding ideals namely that journalists should at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the press in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism.  Sadly the reverse is actually true.

The public that has a right to know the truth is instead being fed on sheer propaganda with information that is not researched but deliberately twisted to influence, prejudice and plant hatred and disaffection.

Contrary to the ZAMEC code headlines that should be fully warranted by content are more often than not bold statements of hate that have little to do with prominence importance or substance of the material covered. The headlines are meant to sell rather than educate.

The strategy now is the use of yellow journalism which is a form or reporting that is designed to malign and vilify an opponent without any substantive information or justification.

There is no doubt that the media as the Fourth Estate has tremendous influence in setting national agenda and thereby determining the level and tempo of national debate.

A combative media involved in political propaganda is a grave danger, not only to the profession, but to the nation at large, because gullible consumers take literal interpretation of misinformation presented.

Yellow journalism has no respect for media ethics, which call for truth, veracity and more importantly the need to balance stories in order to accord both sides an opportunity to rebut and counter negative stories.

We sympathize with Permanent Secretary of Information, Godfrey Malama, who has decried the abuse of media freedom.  He made the point that while media space was open, the plurality and divergence of opinion it was intended to strengthen had been abused because the media was the message and the active actor.

As a developing nation, the media has a tremendous duty of mobilizing and engendering an ethos rooted in liberal democracy, encompassing the rule of law and the respect of human rights.

That is why it is very sad that the media  efforts to self-regulate have failed, leaving the profession open to predators.

The sooner the media fraternity comes together to rejuvenate the council the better because self-regulation by peers is much more effective and contextual than Government strong-arm control.

Categorized | Editorial

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