MEDIA proprietors in the country, especially those in the private sector, should pay their journalists well, Kitwe district commissioner Chanda Kabwe has said.
Zambian journalists today join the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day whose theme is ‘‘Access to information and fundamental freedoms: This is your right’’.
Mr. Kabwe observed that some media owners in the country were abusing journalists by paying them what he termed as slave wages despite their hard and hazardous work in the gathering of news and providing good stories for their respective media houses.
He stated that the tendency of paying journalists meagre wages was an insult to the profession because journalism was regarded as the fourth estate.
“Journalism is a noble profession because journalists provide checks and balances in the governing of the country but some private media owners do not have respect for their journalists. They treat them like slaves, subjecting them to inhumane and pathetic conditions of service,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr. Kabwe advised media owners that did not pay their journalists well to change for the better, saying that a financially challenged media practitioner could plunge the nation into turmoil by causing the publication of false news due to lack of motivation at work.
And Zambia Republic Party (ZRP) president Wright Musoma called on journalists to desist from partisan politics and work towards the success of the August 11 general elections.
Mr. Musoma noted that journalists had a critical role to play in building and sustaining democracy in the country.
“Journalists are very instrumental in as far as sustaining democracy in the country is concerned. Now that the country will be going to the polls their responsibility even becomes bigger, by insuring that they report truthfully and objectively,” Mr Musoma said.
He urged journalists to remain non-partisan and avoid being used by politicians for political mileage as the country prepared for elections.
Mr. Musoma said there was need for journalists to uphold professionalism by refusing bribes from politicians during the election period.
“During election period, some politicians tend to bribe journalists so that they can give them coverage while disadvantaging others, but I would urge them to turn down such politicians and uphold their professionalism.
“Journalists should remain ethical and ensure that coverage is given to all political parties which are registered in the country to promote free and fair elections,” he said.
Mr. Musoma said he was satisfied with the quality of journalism practiced in Zambia despite the enormous challenges that practitioners faced.
“The media in Zambia has performed well in recent years despite some challenges that the fraternity had continued to face, but we appreciate our journalists because they are doing a great job and we cannot do without them,” he said.
He, however, expressed disappointment with some sections of the media who were abusing their freedom.
“We have seen situations where phones are being hacked and insults are published which is bad and must be concerned. Whilst we appreciate the role of journalists in Zambia, they should not abuse their freedom, but must endeavour to be professional,” he said.