During the period under review Bloggers of Zambia implemented a trainers of trainer workshop on safety, security, ethics and standards of journalism in conjunction with Northern media club Whoâ€™s aim was to train, capacity build and engage journalists on safety, security, ethics and standards of journalism, addressing some of the challenges have been long standing among the journalist in the Northern province of Zambia and contributed to the compromise of ethical standards, conduct and professionalism of journalists.
This activity was conducted in conjunction with the Northern media club and participants were drawn from Kasama district with representation from Radio Mano, Daily Mail, Zambia News and Information Services, Radio Lutanda and Kasama Radio. The workshop draw a total of 16Â participants and was held at Sinamu lodge on 14th December,2019.The official opening of the workshop was done by Mr Godfrey Mwansa Representing the District Commissioner of Kasama.
2.0 OBJECTIVE OF THE WORKSHOP
The main objective of the workshop was to capacity build and train journalists from various media houses in Kasama through the creation of an atmosphere for mutual understanding between the mediaÂ and the policeÂ for the safety and security of journalists.
3.0 PRESENTATIONS OF THE WORKSHOPS
Below are brief explanations of the deliberations during the workshop:
3.1 Security and Safety of Journalists
This session explores ways in which journalists can remain safe, secure and ethical when covering various assignmentsÂ when duty calls. This session took a practical approach in which participants where required to explore some of the reasons that put their safety at risk as they conduct their work and the following where some of reasons; lack of safety attired when covering news in violent areas and demonstrations, elections, lack of proper identification has also led to many journalist being attacked. Emphasis was also made on the lack of efforts byÂ media houses in taking issues of safety of journalist which has become critical due to the growing numbers of journalist being violently attacked. The meeting agreed that media owners need to be engaged on the need to adhere to security standards.
3.2 Standards andÂ ethics of good conduct journalism
This session explored some of the ethics of good journalism and the main focus was to find out why there has been non adherence to ethics by journalists, exploring challenges with media ethics and make proposals on how the media can enhance their professionalism in the current socioeconomic context. This session identified the following as reasons why there has been challenges in adhering to good ethics; infiltration by untrained journalists like citizen journalists, lack of incentives and salary coupled with poor conditions of services by employers, lack of objectivity in reporting news hence the public has lost confidence in journalists, political interference as most media houses both public and private have become political aligned either to the ruling or opposition parties, patriotism and loyalty to sponsor hence abandoning ethics, editorial interference, lack of refresher courses and training to keep up with new trends.
3.3 Mapping Safety and Security Threats Offline and Online
This session involved group breakaways to enable participants discuss at length risks associated with their work online and off line and explore ways of staying safe as journalists when covering various assignments. The breakaway groups will identified safety and security challenges in the context of their region- Northern Province and how this affects their ethics/ professionalism discussion to get the practical experience and the following was discussed;
- Online threats; Hacking, blackmail, Cyber bullying, privacy invasion, data harvesting, pop ups from unknown sources, surveillance, disclosure of passwords to unknown people. The following where some of the solutions identified to counter the threats identified; software updates, avoid opening of unidentified pages that pop up, securing of passwords, securing ones data etc.
- Offline threats; Physical and sexual harassmentÂ from sources , intimidation from the police and cadres, lack of protective clothing, job insecurity, violence attacks from members of the public and political party cadres. Solutions identified where as follows; enforcing of law that seeks to protect journalists from all forms of attacks and harassment, investing in protective kit, factual reporting and adherearing to ethical standards, Punishable laws for perpetrators of sexual harassment and the creation of a union to defend journalists from labour matters.
3.4 Digital Security Tips for journalists
This session gave participants tips on basic digital security focusing on the new trend of threats in digital world. It explored ways of how to stay safe while online this is because the evolving of technology new threats to digital security are increasing and media personal needed to be alert and keep breasted on how to be safe online. The session also focused on personal data protection using different methods which include end to end encryption, strong passwords, use of Virtual private networks, dark internet to mention but a few.
3.5 Media self regulation
The session brought to the attention of participants on the proposed statutory Self Regulatory mechanism and how it is expected to enhance ethics and professionalism of journalists in Zambia. It came to the attention that most participant where not even aware of this process and what effects it will have on their profession. However it was good to note that the bill seeks for the media to be self regulated as opposed to being regulated by the government with a number of progressive clauses. It was also made known that bill also seeks to revise the ZNBC and IBA act so as to ensure that all media institutions in Zambia are regulated by one body
4.0 KEY RESULTS OF THE ACTIVITY.
- Workshop facilitated for the sharing of knowledge and experiences on how best media houses can uphold professionalism
- The workshop provided an opportunity for the press club to realign their thinking and come up with a strategy of how toÂ revamp the press club that has been inactive for a long time.
- The local leadership through the district commissioner challenged journalists to defend their profession through objective and factual reporting
- Strategies on how to better coexists with the police was shared by the journalists present drawing lessons from past experiences within northern province
5.0 LESSONS LEARNT
- It was learnt that there is need to engage heads of different institutions and orient them on the need for media institutions to adhere to safety, security, ethics and good conduct journalism
- ÂThere is need for further training and capacity building of the media in Northern province on issues to do with digital rights and internet legislation as most of participants had little or no knowledge about this area of interest despite being regular users of the internet
- There is need for to draw lessons from experiences within the province in coming up with interventions to enhance the relationship between the police and media in Northern province as challenges differ from one province to the other
- It was recommended that in the next meeting there is need to have participants from Zambia Police to answer some of the issues that where raised during the deliberation
- Â Media houses must en devour to sponsor and organize training for their staff as refresher courses to enable them keep up with the trends and what is currently obtaining
- Media houses need to invest in digital media literacy trainingÂ for their staff
- It was also recommended that journalist present encourage their media houses to familiarize themselves with the bill on media regulation to be keep themselves in check with what it entails for them
- There is need for continuous engagement between the police and media if a good relationship is to be maintained and this can be done through affirmative action and efforts by the media houses and police in Northern Province
- Not all participants invited made it to the meeting
Not all issues raised during the workshop especially those directed at the police could not be answeredÂ hence the need to engage them during the next meeting.