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10.05.2017 14:56 Age: 1 year
Category: Media Matters
By: Adam Hartman

Geingob to launch media code of ethics

THE Editors Forum of Namibia's code of ethics will be relaunched today as part of the belated World Press Freedom Day commemorations.

Hage Geingob
President Hage Geingob will be the keynote speaker. The guest speaker will be Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine from Swaziland.

Geingob and information minister Tjekero Tweya are some of the government leaders blamed for Namibia's drop in rankings in press freedom from number 17 to 24.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Namibia) said senior politicians insulted and intimidated journalists over the last year, as well as threatened and initiated attempts to regulate the media.

Government's intentions to prioritise state-owned media in advertising and information dissemination, along with the continued absence of an access to information law, were also singled out by Misa Namibia as factors which possibly impacted negatively on the media landscape.

The code of ethics forms part of the forum's constitution, and was amended to include various requirements about reporting on elections, as well as additional elements as stipulated under the Communications Act.

Members of the forum feel that self-regulation is preferred to statutory regulation by government or any of its agencies.

The hope is that appointed ministers would assist to ensure the free flow of information to the media, upon request and on public relations officials' own accord, in order to turn around the unwillingness to openly share information that government institutions have become renowned for.

As for a Misa report on the state of media freedom in southern Africa, it is believed that traditional media on the continent “is in a state of flux” as it is under both political and economic siege.

“Media houses across the region are having to contend with low-performing economies, shrinking newsrooms, poor working conditions against increasing costs, reduced advertising revenue, drastically reduced print runs, stiffer competition, hostile governments, constricting media legislation and to top it all, increasing corruption and unethical behaviour within the sector.

Readers are being captured by news downloaded from social media platforms that offer content at a dizzying pace, packaged in a format that appeals to diverse audiences and can be consumed in seconds.

The media is having to find relevance in a world mesmerised by technology and more engaged with news on social media platforms, be it real or fake.

News is being shared at lightning speed, and by the time it is refuted, it has crossed borders and even continents,” the report reads.

It also claims that good solid investigative journalism to ensure sustainability and relevance is both a solution and an obstacle, and often the investigative stories highlight corruption in the public sector, or the finger points at public officials, which brings the media into direct confrontation with the governing elite.

According to Misa, up until now, World Press Freedom Day provided Namibians with an opportunity of acknowledgement and pride of the fact that the media and free expression environment typically exhibits the principles set in the Windhoek Declaration.

Namibia is known for reflecting a diversity of voices and opinions, freely shared on online and offline media platforms, which do not have to struggle for their right to exist.    

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