Sources said the appeal by Misa-Zimbabwe followed what is perceived as crude insults and inflammatory reports by journalists and politicians in newspapers.
“MISA-Zimbabwe is appealing to the media, politicians and Zimbabwean citizens in general to desist from abusing the right to freedom of expression and media freedom as evidenced by some of the personal vilifications and vile name-calling that is manifest in the opinion-editorial (op-ed) pages of both private and public newspapers,” said Misa Zimbabwe chairperson, Njabulo Ncube in a statement.
“The right to freedom of expression and journalistic privilege demands greater responsibility and integrity on the part of editors and journalists,” said Ncube.
MISA-Zimbabwe’s concerns come on the backdrop of the Media Ethics Indaba held in Harare on 29 September 2011, almost a week after the International Media Ethics Day which is commemorated annually on 23 September.
Delegates at the indaba acknowledged the decline in journalism ethics and professionalism in Zimbabwe and agreed that corrective self-regulatory measures needed to be instituted as a matter of urgency.
Ncube noted that it was important to retain respect of the profession through strict adherence to the rules of reporting truthfully, without bias and avoid personal vilifications.
“This calls for journalism that eschews hate speech, xenophobia, tribalism, gender discrimination, racism and vile name calling and intemperate language. MISA-Zimbabwe is therefore urging publishers, editors and journalists to seriously reflect on their professional conduct as dictated by the codes and ethics of journalism in order to retain and maintain the integrity and respect of the profession,” he added.
On Wednesday one of the privately owned daily newspapers compared former information minister Jonathan Moyo to a skunk and also referred to him as a political harlot and a baffon.