Traditional leaders challenge Malawi journalists on fake news

Chief Chimombo: Media unprofessionalism fuels fake news Chief Chimombo: Media unprofessionalism fuels fake news

Traditional leaders in Nsanje and Mulanje districts have called upon journalists to stick to their professional standards as a way of fighting fake news.

Traditional Authority (T/A) Chimombo of Nsanje and Senior Chief Mthiramanja of Mulanje made the sentiments in their respective districts during MISA Malawi’s engagements of various stakeholders on the use of the Access to Information law in the fight against fake news.

Speaking during the community dialogue session in Nsanje district on Saturday, June 13, 2020, T/A Chimombo said some journalists act as agents of fake news by being unprofessional in their work.

“Some journalists don’t seem to have passion for the profession. They seem to be accidental journalists. Yes, we have some who really demonstrate professionalism in their work but some are so compromised and whatever they say or write cannot be trusted. For the audience to have credible and not fake news, we need professional journalists,” Chimombo said.

He said journalists also need attractive remunerations and promotions to be passionate about their profession and promote professionalism.

In Mulanje on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Senior Chief Mthiramanja expressed worry that the traditional media is becoming a part of the problem.

“I don’t trust the media anymore. They have become interested parties in politics and are no longer objective,” said Mthiramanja.

The chief urged MISA Malawi to help restore the lost trust by ensuring that journalists are professional in carrying out their duties.

The community dialogue sessions had representatives from district councils, Non-Governmental Organizations, police, the media, youth, agriculture and health departments and the faith community.

According to the participants, fake news is damaging the lives of people as there are some individuals who resort to mob justice and victimize others based on fake news.

They said the engagements will help the community understand how to verify news and avoid spreading fake news using social media platforms.

The participants also promised to utilize different community gatherings to share with other community members lessons on how to verify information and debunk fake news.

MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga asked the participants to support the push for Access to Information (ATI) Law and help expose fake news.

Ndanga said access to relevant information helps citizens to easily verify and dispel fake news.

Community dialogue sessions are some of the activities MISA Malawi is using to highlight the importance of access to information in fighting fake news. The activities are part of a 6-months project MISA Malawi is implementing on Fighting Fake News through Access to Information with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

About MISA Malawi

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.