Posted by: africanpressorganization | 1 April 2009

Malawi / Media groups caution online publication on publishing false stories as elections draw closer



Malawi / Media groups caution online publication on publishing false stories as elections draw closer


LILONGWE, Malawi, April 1, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 30 March The Media Council of Malawi and the Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) cautioned the online publication Nyasa Times for falsely publishing that state president Bingu wa Mutharika was ill and had cancelled the launch of his Democratic Progressive Party campaign scheduled for 29 March, due to his ‘illness’.

The article, published on 29 March, said its account was reported from sources within government ranks. However, on 30 March the publication apologised noting that the president was in good health. Mutharika, on 30 March, without referring to the Nyasa Times report, told the nation that he was in good health. Media Council of Malawi, a local media self regulatory body, expressed concern with the publication despite its apology.

“As we run toward the elections the media should refrain from causing such alarm,” said Media Council chairperson Patrick Semphere. “Though they have apologized, they have caused damage to both the president and the nation.”

He said the council will seek ways to regulate such online publications, noting that the Nyasa Times is run in London by people bent to discredit the reigning government. The council also noted that the Nyasa Times has local correspondents who file news items using pen names. “Some of these correspondents belong to established media houses in the country and we are going to discuss this with their bosses,” said Semphere, whose organisation accredits journalists practicing in Malawi.

His organisation will find ways to liaise with media institutions operated by Malawians but outside the country. Brian Ligomeka, chairperson of MISA-Malawi described the Nyasa Times as a “propaganda machinery and a discredit to the media fraternity”. Malawi usually sees the rise of new publications at every election. These disappear soon after.


SOURCE : Media Institute of South Africa (MISA)


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