Invest in investigative journalism, scribes challenged

BY Wallen Simwaka in Johannesburg

ZAMBIAN journalists have been challenged to invest their skills into investigative journalism as opposed to the redundant culture of chasing political stories most of which have little impact on the needs of people and society. Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Godfrey Malama has observed that the failure by Zambian journalists to have made it to the final list of the CNN African Journalist 2016 Awards was an indictment on the journalism profession in the country. Mr Malama has challenged journalists to endeavour to delve into investigative stories that would bring about change in the lives of people and society. Mr Malama said in an interview with journalists in Johannesburg that political stories often withered away quickly but that stories that touch the lives of people had a longer life because they impacted on the lives and well-being of societies. He said the failure for Zambians journalists to have made it to the final list of CNN African journalist reflected a serious void in the journalism profession in the country. “In our local setting, those of us who have been associated with the journalism profession have always bemoaned the fact that there had been a culture of journalists he said, he said and at the end, you only write what about somebody. Let us endeavour to replicate what happens elsewhere on the Continent. We need investigative journalists that can bring to the fore salient and potent issues that can change the lives of the people in societies. The mere reporting of what politicians say just falls short of the kind of journalism we need,” Mr Malama said. Mr Malama told journalists to be objective as they would be reporting on colleagues who would be receiving CNN awards to critically evaluate their stories and check how they had made it to the final list. He said it was right and proper for Zambian journalists to move away from a culture of following obvious stories most of which were about what politicians were saying. He stated that it was important for Zambian journalists to begin to critically analyse pronouncements politicians were making rather than writing and publishing everything thing they said. “Journalism as a profession in Zambia would be elevated to the level of prominence if journalists developed a critical mind. The last time a Zambian journalist won a CNN award was when Zambia hosted the event. It has been a long time and we need to do better,” Mr Malama said. CNN had received 1, 600 entries across Africa and only 338 finalists have since been shortlisted and no Zambian journalist is appearing on the final list.