Veteran football commentator, Steve Liwewe Banda, has urged local sports journalists to be responsible in the way they do their job.
He was speaking on Friday in Lilongwe as one of the facilitators of a day-long sports reporters’ workshop which the Sports Writers Association (Swam) hosted at Crown Hotel, Lilongwe, with funding from the Super League of Malawi (Sulom).
Liwewe Banda, who has been a football commentator since 1986, said he was shocked by many sports commentators who focus on issues that could incite football violence.
He warned that irresponsible sports reporting could, one day, put the nation on fire in case relatives of hooliganism and violence victims decide also to react violently.
Liwewe Banda urged the sports media to avoid giving perpetrators of violence the publicity to avoid escalating conflict.
He gave an example of an incident in which police were reported to have shot a fan outside the Kamuzu Stadium during a Be Forward Wanderers’ Carlsberg Cup match against Moyale Barracks last month in Blantyre, which some commentators sensationalised in their reporting before it was later discovered the victim was a thief.
“Honestly for the good of the nation, we don’t have to report everything that meets the eye,” Banda said.
Sulom legal adviser, captain Gilbert Mitawa, thanked Swam for organising the training which launched sports writers’ Code of Conduct besides providing a post-mortem of the TNM Super League first round.
Swam board chairperson, Gracian Tukula, said it was disheartening to note that professional values were eroded, but thanked Sulom for giving a ray of hope through the training.
The 10-page document gives sports reporters’ guidelines on Statutory Duty, The Public Interest, Ethical Conduct, Professional Conduct, Conflict of Interest, Confidentiality, Professional Development, Advertising, Trust, Errors, False Informational and Law.
“The code of conduct reflects the ethos and culture and the spirit of the law governing it. It identifies the key principles and values that should guide day-to-day practices and emphasise the core values that are to be honoured,” reads the code in part.