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ED's media coverage logical

16 Mar 2018 at 09:21hrs | Views
Since the opposition's realization that it lacks the gravitas to defeat the ruling party in the upcoming elections, there has been a great temptation to criticize the Government and or Head of State over media publicity which they claim to be inclined towards Zanu PF party.

Recently the opposition, MDC-T, has been up in arms over the President's media coverage by the State broadcaster yet neglecting the extensive coverage that the opposition also enjoyed from independent media houses, till recently when their rowdy behavior turned against them proving to be a deterrent for most media practitioners.

Whilst the opposition would want to argue that too much publicity is being channeled towards the President, the fact at hand is that so much was at stake regarding the deteriorating country's economy and since President Mnangagwa's ascendency to power, he has hit the ground running with many turn-around programmes which he is currently overseeing.

Apart from this fact, as someone entrusted with a public office, it is only reasonable for the media to then hold him accountable to people who put him in office, thus the publicity.

Generally, public media the world over tend to have a bias towards public figures as they have a mandate to be accountable to the people who voted them in, thus bias towards Government programmes, and not necessarily for propaganda purposes like what the opposition intends to propel.

At the same time, public media (broadcasting/ print/ electronic) are required to provide a varied range of programmes for every group in society. They serve a greater population which needs to be serviced with the highest quality news and cultural programming; balanced, fair and non-partisan news and information; well-designed and researched children's programming; and educational programs that reflect the best of the nation, and not necessarily politics only like what the opposition is currently vying for.

In countries where public service broadcasting is, one realizes that people are better informed about Government and politics, current affairs, and the information is more accurate compared to commercial channels whose accuracy, reliability, and impartiality is inclined to the sponsor.

Therefore, as much as we appreciate the need for the public media to carter for everyone, there are also limitations to the duties that they can perform, ranging from available personnel, resources, proximity. Above everything else, media pluralism characterize the country's media spectrum to an extent that anyone can get coverage of any event and not necessarily from the public media, for instance Voice of America (Studio 7) equally has a bias towards opposition parties who monopolize all positive reportage and neglect any negatives.

In as much as we cast a blind eye on private media reportage, it is clearly evident that the independent media have their loyalties cast towards Government critiques, a situation requiring another side of the coin.

Also due to polarization of the media, journalists tend to shy off from covering events which they deem risky depending on their editorial policy. For instance, last year's NERA demonstrations left a ZBC car burnt to ashes, and a number of journalists injured. As such journalists would simply abscond such events. Another recent incident was the case of local Al jazeera journalists who had their equipment stolen whilst they were trying to cover the former Prime Minister's funeral. From there, journalists who attended Tsvangirai's burial were also intimidated from conducting their duties in Buhera where their cameras were confiscated and were barred from covering Khupe's intimidation.

Also Bus Stop TV, journalists were victimized for publishing that MDC-T's Chinhoyi rally had a poor attendance, not the purported 20 000 which MDC-T was trying to sell to the public. Given this track record how then does the opposition expect journalists to cover their events?

The opposition needs to be reminded that they have no new policies to offer, no developmental programmes to publicize, instead their political rowdiness and thuggish behavior precedes their reputation and will only continue dissuading media publicity.

Source - Daphine Zulu
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