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Journalists celebrate media freedom day

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By Feston Malekezo:

NDANGA—Professional reporting is critical at all times

Journalists in the country will today celebrate World Press Freedom Day which falls under the theme: ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’.

World Press Freedom Day falls on May 3 every year.

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According to Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Malawi), the celebrations focus on the essential role that the media plays in supporting elections and democracy, especially in the face of increasing challenges of disinformation, declining trust in the news media and intimidation and attacks on journalists.

According to Misa Malawi, the theme reminds journalists and stakeholders of challenges of ‘fake news’ and the need to find sustainable ways of addressing them.

Misa Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said the celebrations provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the state of media freedom and access to information and the challenges of our time, as the country gears up for May 21 Tripartite Elections.

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“All stakeholders – government, civil society, the academia and ordinary citizens – will have an opportunity to discuss developments around freedom of expression and the role of a free and independent media in, among others, countering fake news and contributing to free, fair and credible elections. Professional journalism is not only critical or essential but is the panacea to most of the challenges of our time,” she said.

Ndanga said professional journalism helps counter disinformation and it is the only option that people have to access accurate and relevant information to make informed decisions.

“Professional reporting is critical at all times but indispensable during elections as it helps people make informed decisions to help shape the future of their country,” she said.

The two-day celebrations started Friday with a workshop on data Journalism and, today, the day breaks with aerobics session to be followed by a freedom march, a media debate on Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation, an Annual General Meeting and awards gala dinner.

The celebrations come at a time as Malawi has slid back in upholding press freedom having slipped back four points from 64 last year to 68 in 2019.

This is according to a media watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF)—Reporters Without Boarders—which attributed the drop to, among others, delays in implementing the Access to Information Law.

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