’Refrain from sensational journalism’: Tweya

WINDHOEK: Journalists should understand their role in building nations and refrain from sensational journalism that aims to assassinate individuals, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya says.

Speaking during the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day in Windhoek on Wednesday, Tweya called on media practitioners to promote peace and nation building.

“I am of the opinion and firmly believe that the media have the tools to encourage economic growth and facilitate trade through promoting local products and services that can stimulate further international investment and interest in our country,” the minister said.

Tweya urged journalists to continuously strive for better reporting in the digital age as their work will remain visible and accessible for years to come, and added that Namibia remains committed to upholding press freedom.

Speaking about gender equality, he called on journalists to practice and not just preach gender balance in newsrooms, and also when reporting on local and world events.

He also warned journalists to take extra care when using social media.

“Digital media has evolved and rapidly developed, affording journalists and users the chance to share information instantaneously for the benefit of all.

“However, with this comes a need for journalists to be responsible and factual in their reporting as social media is instant, interactive and an extremely powerful tool in the dissemination of news, views and opinions. Therefore, report more on topics that will build a smarter, more efficient and innovative youth,” he added.

World Press Freedom Day is commemorated annually on 03 May, which was designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an opportunity to celebrate worldwide the fundamental principles of press freedom.

The day also assesses the state of press freedom throughout the world; defends the media from attacks on their independence; and pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

According to the Reporters Without Borders Index, Namibia is ranked 17th worldwide and in the top position amongst African countries in terms of the degree of freedom that journalists, media houses and citizens of the country have. This is the fourth time that Namibia holds the top position in Africa, up from position 22 in 2014.

This year, World Press Freedom Day was commemorated under the theme ‘Let journalism thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age’. The local commemoration event was organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)’s Namibia chapter.