‘Poor journalism quality undermines democracy, news’

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Journalists (File picture)

BY METHEMBE SIBANDA

MEDIA experts have decried a fall in the quality of journalism around the world, with ethical concerns undermining the role of the media in democracy and reducing the quality of news.

This came out during a Twitter Space discussion hosted by the United States Embassy where US media expert Philip Michael Napoli and Zimbabwean journalist Valentine Muhamba reflected on the impact of digital technologies on media ethics.

“Digital technologies are impacting media ethics in the US where stories produced focus much more exclusively on meeting the needs and interests of the wealthy, the whites and the liberals,” Napoli, who is also senior associate dean of the faculty of Research at the Sanford School of Public Policy, said.

Napoli said his observations were based on audience research which showed how media tended to ignore certain segments of the population.

“We went out and we did focus groups with people all across Cleveland and there was such a long history of recognition and resentment about the fact that the news media, the commercial news media in Cleveland had traditionally only served the wealthy white segment of the population” he said.

Muhamba, who is editor of an online technology and business website, TechZim, said publications were being pushed to sensationalise stories in order to earn Google hits to monetise their content.

“So sometimes there are errors that occur in terms of reporting, or not fully investigating the facts, because most publications say you want to be first to break news for search engine optimisation so that their stories become the first one in the Google search hits,” Muhamba said.

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