Police extend olive branch to journos as polls loom

JOURNALISTS and police have been urged to collaborate to ensure they disseminate accurate information, particularly during elections.

By Stephen Chadenga

Addressing a Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe-organised workshop in Gweru early this week, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said police and journalists should complement each other.

“It is a fact that, the media plays a vital role in informing, educating and entertaining the public before, during and after elections,” she said.

“Information dissemination is, therefore, key to a peaceful election process. The Zimbabwe Republic Police and media inevitably need to work together in this regard.”

Charamba said the police and the media could not exist without each other, with the former being a source of important information for journalists.

“While this information might be of interest to the media, we also have an obligation to inform the public with a view to enhance security in the country,” she said.

“When investigations are likely to be compromised or jeopardised, the police withholds information until such time when investigations are completed.”

Charamba also appealed to journalists to help police spread the message of peace and to embark on awareness campaigns against political violence, hate-speech and the peddling of falsehoods, particularly through social media platforms.

She called on journalists to report objectively.

“We are calling for responsible journalism, as experience has shown that subjective stories tend to distort facts and polarise communities along political lines,” she said.

Charamba said there was need for enhanced collaboration between the police and the media to ensure a safe working environment for journalists.

This came as journalists were urged to carry out risk assessments before going out on duty to protect themselves from hostile working environments.

Emmaneul Freudenthal, a freelance investigative reporter covering East and Central Africa, said: “There is always need for journalists to undertake risk assessment, be specific on the risks likely to be faced and what mitigatory factors to undertake to minimise the risks before doing an assignment.”

He highlighted many risks associated with carrying out journalistic work, including health/medical, digital/communication, travel, legal and physical risks, among others.
Misa-Zimbabwes senior programmes officer, Nyasha Nyakunu reiterated that journalists should always remember that no story was worth dying for, hence the need to protect themselves.

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