The two-edged sword arm of democracy, its role as Zambia joins world mark WPFD
WPFD is an annual celebration of press freedom, observed on 3 May and whose main celebration is organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
It serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
WPFD was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991 (UNESCO 26 C/Resolution 4.3).
Meanwhile, for Zambia, the day comes at the time there is a new sheriff in town, UPND administration led by President Hakainde Hichilema, born from the democratic election held last year.
In the same vein, the role of the media in any democracy can therefore not be overemphasized.
The media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness.
Politicians may take full advantage of their positions, and when this happens an evil mafia and crime syndicate make the life of the common man miserable. This result in taxpayer’s money being siphoned out for the personal gain at the expense of the ordinary people, hence the media bears a greater responsibility.
As the fourth pillar of democracy along with judiciary, executive and legislature, media of today has an all embracing role to act against the injustice, oppression, misdeeds and partiality of our society.
Apparently, it has become clear that the media still has a major role to play in the country as before, despite the change of guard.
The media has the power to influence so many people’s behaviour, hence the need for accuracy and accountability.
Information can be spread whether it is true, false, speculation or gossip and this has potential to harm relationships in various ways, in societies or families.
The media can manipulate, influence, persuade and pressurise society, along with even controlling the world at times in both positive and negative ways; mentally, physically and emotionally. Because of this, there is also some need for holding it accountable as well.
The media can also be manipulated by politicians or some other powerful personalities and there is some media complaint mechanism in place to guard against certain notions.
Media control has for years been a hot topic pitting governments on one side; with the media and civil societies on the other.
There has always been calls for the media to regulate itself, in order to counter manipulation and bias, but governments posit that if not regulated, the media can be destructive.