Who we are
MISA Malawi is one of 11 chapters of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, which promotes and defends media freedom and freedom of expression across southern Africa in line with the Windhoek Declaration of 1991. MISA Malawi is a membership-based advocacy organisation. The organisation’s National Governing Council, which is elected by members, provides policy direction to the Secretariat. (You can find out more about our governance structure here.) MISA Malawi was established in 1996 and commenced operations in 1997. In September 2000, MISA Malawi was registered as a non-governmental organisation under the Trustees Incorporation Act under the name, the National Media Intitute of Southern Africa (NAMISA). Through its activities, MISA Malawi has grown to establish itself as a reputable and authoritative source of information on media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in both Malawi and the southern African region.
What we do
MISA Malawi works with different stakeholders and partners, including regional and international development organisations and journalists and media institutions to, among other things, improve the skills base and professionalism of media workers, promote and facilitate effective use and access to the media by all sections of society and maintain an environment conducive to relevant and effective advocacy campaigns on media freedom and freedom of expression. Our work includes:
Media freedom monitoring
MISA Malawi monitors the media landscape to identify, document and publicise both positive and negative developments around media freedom and freedom of expression. We also monitor coverage of specific issues to inform capacity building initiatives for the sector. Our monitoring largely centres on two main areas:
- Media freedom and freedom of expression monitoring which leads to issuance of alerts of media violations and comminiques on positive developments within the sector and the nation in general
- Media coverage of elections to ensure issue-based reporting and improve the skills base and professionalism of media workers.
MISA Malawi gives out awards every year as part of the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day and honour journalism excellence in Malawi. The awards are aimed at motivating journalists to improve coverage of specialised fields such as health, agriculture, child rights or human rights and at the same time provide the Chapter with an opportunity to assess gaps in the sector.
Capacity building and training
MISA Malawi, with support from the German media development organisation DW Akademie, has built a training center and developed training modules to capacity of the media and ensure that the sector is knowledgeable, accountable and professional. The training we offer targets both reporters and editors from all types of media houses, including community and faith-based. Available modules include Digital Storytelling, Community Radio Essentials, Public Relations Skills and Voter Centred Election Reporting. All of our training information is available here.
MISA Malawi conducts and publishes research on a regular basis to inform its advocacy work. Most of our research focuses on media law and the state of media freedom and free expression. But we also carry out research on media coverage of specific topics and issues such child health and child rights.
MISA Malawi, like the MISA family across the region, strives for a free, independent and diverse media sector and advocacy is a key component of our work. Media monitoring and research informs our advocacy work. We are currently working around the issues of access to information, media self-regulation, safety of journalists, broadcasting diversity and law reform, with a focus on decriminalisation of free speech.
Notable projects which MISA Malawi has successfully implemented include revival of the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) and the formation of the Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA). MISA Malawi funded the initial national consultative meeting that conceptualised MCM’s revival. MISA Malawi also conceptualised and spearheaded the formation of JUMA.
Apart from the formation of these two institutions, MISA Malawi has successfully lobbied government:
- to repeal Section 46 of the Penal Code which empowered a Cabinet Minister to ban publications deemed “unsuitable” for Malawians
- to develop and adopt the National Access to Information Policy
- to adopt ATI legislation
- in setting up a multi-stakeholder group to organise the country’s first ever presidential debates in 2014 and second presidential debates in 2019
- in passing the Communications Act (2016)
- in campaigning for broadcasting diversity – at the beginning of 2019, Malawi had 90 plus broadcasters from less than 10 in 2000.
- in constructing the MISA Malawi office structure named ‘Mtolakhani House’ (Journalist House)
- in campaigning for broadcasting diversity – at the beginning of 2019, Malawi had 90 plus broadcasters from less than 10 in 2000 in establishing MISA Malawi Training Centre to promote continuing journalism education in Malawi and the SADC region.
Above all the notable achievements, MISA Malawi has managed to earn respect of the media fraternity as the most authoritative media body in the country with nearly 800 individual members – the highest membership in the region.