During the period under review Bloggers of Zambia implemented a trainers of trainer workshop on safety, security, ethics and standards journalism in conjunction with Northern media clubÂ in Kitwe on 10th December, Lothian House. The workshop is one of the many interventions being conducted on the Police Media relations project. The activity sort to train journalists from different media houses on safety, security, ethics and standards of journalism, address some of the challenges that have for long compromised their ethical conduct and professionalism while conducting their work. Participants for the activity where drawn from the following media houses; Flava FM, K-FM, Daily mail, Rooster FM, Sun FM, Radio Chimwemwe Faith Radio, Rise FM, Radio Chengelo, Kokoliko FM , kopala tv who are based in Chingola, Kitwe and Ndola districts of Copperbelt province.
2.0 OBJECTIVE OF THE WORKSHOP
The main objective of the workshop was to train and capacity build local journalists inÂ Â safety, security, ethics and standards of journalism for 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 explored ways in which journalists can remain safe, secure and ethical when covering various assignmentsÂ while on duty. This session looked at the constitutional and legal framework in guaranteeing the safety and security of journalist with the laws in palace. In addition a practical approach was also taken 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 laws that lack of safety attired when covering news in violent areas, lack of proper identification has also led to many journalist being harassed by members of the community and police, attitude of state and non state actors in promoting media freedoms amidist many violations by state police, lack of job security tenure and economic situation in the country.
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 look at ethics of journalism and their level of independence in covering news and equally explore why the growing non adherence to ethics. The non adherence to ethics of journalism has led to the continued questioning of the credibility of the media in today times therefore the meetingÂ discussed the challenges that have eroded media ethics and made proposals on how the media can enhance their professionalism amidist the socioeconomic challenges.
This session identified the following as reasons why there has been challenges non adherence and these include; low newsroom budget as most media houses are not able to cutter for costs incurred in the gathering of information for news, recruitment of staff in both private and public media does not adhere to the principles of journalism and standards hence falling prey to recruitment of untrained personel, media houses are falling prey to government and political party whims, lack of innovation and adjustment to the changing industry tends fast enough to maintain a fair market share amidist technological advancement in reporting such as use of social media andÂ infiltration by untrained journalists like free lance journalists.
3.3 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.
3.4 Mapping Safety and Security Threats Offline and Online
In this session participants where divided in two groups to discuss and understand risks associated with their work online and off line and explore ways of staying safe while conducting their duties. The breakaway groups identified safety and security challenges journalists face in the context of their region- copperbeltÂ Province and how this affects their ethics, conduct and professionalism and proposed solutions to counter these challenges. The participants present where divided into two groups and the following was discussed;
- ; Hacking, blackmail, Cyber bullying, privacy invasion, data harvesting, pop ups from unknown sources and sites while browsing, surveillance, disclosure of passwords to unknown people. The following where some of the solutions proposed to counter the threats identified; software updates, avoid opening of identified pages that pop up, securing of passwords, securing ones data etc.
- ; Physical and sexual harassment ,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, investing in protective kit and identification, factual reporting and adherearing to ethical standards, Punishable laws for perpetrators of sexual harassment and the creation of a union to defend journalists on issues of intimation and harassment.
3.5 Media self regulation
The session brought to attention of participants on the proposed statutory Self Regulatory mechanism where media all over the country where invited to participate in making submission for the proposed bill. The meeting discussed how it is expected to enhance ethics and professionalism of journalists in Zambia. Unlike other districts most journalist present where aware of this process and how it seeks to enhance their conduct as journalist from different media institutions. It was good to note that the bill still has good tents that are progressive in nature and seek to enhance journalism amidist all the challenges that are being experienced in the media fraternity in Zambia.
4.0 KEY RESULTS OF THE ACTIVITY.
- Workshop facilitated for the sharing of knowledge and experiences on how best media houses can uphold professionalism looking at challenges that media face in Copperbelt Province
- Media present committed themselves to get acquainted with laws that pertain to their work and how these laws have a huge bearing on their work and how they can be used if caught up in situations where they are in conflict with the law
- The workshop examined the role of state and non state actors in influencing laws that seek to promote media freedoms and security
- Journalists present where challenged to improve themselves by en devouring to undertake advancement courses in journalism
- Strategies on how to better coexists with the police was shared by the journalists present drawing lessons from past experiences
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
- It was learnt that the failure by the police to enforce the law on perpetrators of violence against journalists has exacerbated an unsafe and hostile atmosphere for the media in the province
- It was learnt that many journalist are constrained from working professionally for fear of dismissal and loosing their jobs and this has had serious economic impacts there by threatening adherence to ethics and good conduct
- lack of a sustainability and financial plan by most media institution has led most institution failing to meet their running costs and obligations
- media owners must double up their efforts in re financing operations within their institutions and save staff from the embarrassment of relying on sources to cover assignment costs that is likely to undermine standards of journalism in the country
- Revisit the recruitment method to shift away from cadre journalist and embrace technology savvy staff. In view of the fast changing media landscape there is no need to still be hung on visionless staff whose occupation is self-preservation
- It is necessary to keep retraining journalists so that they better understand the needs of their clients and what is currently obtaining so as to report of matters of interest to the public
- Where possible journalists should venture in non media courses that will further improve their capacity to comprehend the ever changing socio economic trends
- 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 deliberations
- Media houses must endevour to sponsor or 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
- No challenges was incurred when conducting this activity