MISA Zambia launches Online Media Freedom report, holds training for bloggers

Online media has potential to contribute to citizen participation in good governance by helping informed decision making and allowing people to express their opinions.

MISA Zambia has launched a study report on Online Media Freedom in Zambia at the Southern Sun Hotel in Lusaka.

Speaking at the launch, MISA Zambia Chairperson, Hellen Mwale, in a speech read for her by Mrs. Elizabeth Mweene Chanda (Vice Chairperson), stated that online media had great potential of contributing to citizen participation in good governance through instant, on demand access to information for informed decision making and freedom of expression.

She said the report was an indictment not only on government and the de facto regulators but also the online media practitioners.

Ms. Mwale further described the report as a challenge to government to help create a favorable environment for the enjoyment of online media freedom as negation of this has led to such classifications of Zambia as “not free” according to Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties.

Transparency International Zambia Board Chairperson Lee Habasonda stated that for online press freedom to thrive there was need for mutual tolerance by the authorities on one hand and responsibility by the online media users. He said suppression of media freedoms, whether online or otherwise, distort human values and fundamental freedoms while undermining democracy, good governance and accountability and transparency.

The report analyses the nature of online media and the increasing importance of their influence in the global village while studying the futility of government efforts to control the flow of or exchange of information among citizens in the digital era.

Meanwhile, bloggers and online media practitioners from various backgrounds underwent training in content development and media ethics as a follow up to the launch of the report. The training empowered the journalists with tools and applications for blogging through a practical hands-on session presided over by a group of seasoned online media journalists-cum-consultants.

One of the participants, Kanekwa Kachinga, described the training as a step forward for online journalists both practising and aspiring. She further urged MISA Zambia to embark on more of such trainings to include more journalists.

About MISA Zambia

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia 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.