Bulawayo, August 15, 2014 – Residents here on Thursday expressed concern over the media’s distortion of local languages including Ndebele. Speaking at Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) mop-up meetings held in Makokoba and Bellevue Club yesterday, most participants said journalists have failed to promote local languages, unify the nation and drive development.
“The media has a role to unify and educate the nation. We hear a lot of improper language on the radio. Journalists should promote local languages,” said Charles Nyama, one of the residents.
Another resident said sometimes journalists used terms and images that are not fit for public consumption.
“Media should hire people who are conversant with the dominant languages,” he added.
People living with disabilities also weighed in on the issue saying some of the terms used by journalists were discriminatory.
“Some journalists use a lot of derogatory terms to us. Words like izilima which are discriminatory and gross are still being used by the media. Even Paralympics are not covered by the media as much as the other sports competitions,” said Hope Ranganayi, a disabled athlete.
Participants also castigated media practitioners for failing to promote developmental issues which they said has led to the closure of local industries.
“Journalists are not covering developmental issues. They concentrate on politics and dividing people. The country is facing economic challenges because of journalists. Bulawayo industries have closed because of them,” fumed one of the residents.
Some residents said the media has a tendency to cover urban issues, ignoring rural communities.
“Media covers only mainstream issues which are not close to people’s hearts. There are many community issues like religious activities which are not covered,” another resident said.
Veteran journalist and former Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary general Tapfuma Machakaire said media practitioners can improve the standard of journalism through self-regulation. “Elevation of media standards can only be spearheaded by media practitioners themselves in a voluntary set-up taking on board the consumer of the product. Direct interference by politicians leads to polarisation and lowers the standards,” said Machakaire.
IMPI is made up of media experts that are gathering people’s views on how to improve local information and media standards.