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‘Political issues overshadow humanitarian ones’

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POLITICAL issues are being given prominence in local media at the expense of humanitarian issues which are largely featured as secondary stories, a media practitioner said on Friday.

AARON UFUMELI

Addressing journalists at the International Committee of the Red Cross Media Sensitisation Workshop on Humanitarian Reporting yesterday, veteran journalist Chris Chinaka said the situation in Zimbabwe was to blame for the current major focus on politics.

“Humanitarian issues have largely featured as a secondary story, overshadowed by tales on politics which have dominated the Zimbabwe media over the last dozen years,” Chinaka said.

“The explanation is both structural and professional. It is structural in the sense that in a country that has held half a dozen major elections since 2000, the political diary and the contest for power tends to eclipse everything else.

“But it is professional because Zimbabwean journalists should easily have been able to see that humanitarian issues invariably suffer in an environment where the population and various authorities are focused on politics.”

Chinaka said a notable example was the 2008 cholera outbreak which only got media coverage when the matter became politicised.

“The major lesson on how the Zimbabwe media has covered the humanitarian story is that the media should always be wary of wearing blinkers and focusing on single issues,” he said.

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