THE director of print media in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Frans Nghitila, says independent journalists should keep their personal feelings at bay when reporting.
He says they confuse independent journalism with their own opinions when reporting on national issues.
“Don’t confuse your calling with your personal interests, because it will defeat the purpose in the process,” Nghitila said at the Future of Journalism Education in Southern Africa Conference in Windhoek yesterday.
He said particularly young, upcoming journalists are prone to presenting their opinions as facts.
“This is not a once-off thing, it is your calling. Guard it, preserve it, and give that profession relevance,” he said.
Nghitila called for the introduction of a community-oriented model of journalism that puts the needs of the communities they operate in first.
“At a time when the established economic model of journalism is collapsing, news organisations are retrenching, and the journalistic workforce is shrinking.
“The justification of journalism schools continuing to graduate thousands of hopeful recruits is increasingly debated, and calls for a new mind shift and pragmatic approach to journalism is to remain relevant,” Nghitila said.
This upheaval, he said, creates an opportune time to rethink the configuration of journalism programmes.
He commended the parliament on passing the access to information bill, which is currently awaiting president Hage Geingob’s promulgation into law.
This bill, Nghitila said, would need all media stakeholders’ efforts for the benefit of citizens.
“For that to happen we need to prepare ourselves in creating an enabling environment in which those in the media space act professionally, guided by journalistic ethics and standards.
“This requires the dedication of trained, professional journalists who strive to produce news and information as a public good,” he said.
Furthermore, Nghitila said the government and the media are indispensable partners in providing access to information, adding that without freedom of the press, democracies would not flourish.
Speakers at the event highlighted that the journalism education model must evolve and adapt to technological advances.
The Namibian’s editor, Tangeni Amupadhi, said the media needs to repurpose itself in terms of skills needed in the industry.
“One thing for sure is that there is no more just print, radio and television journalism. We have to operate in a multimedia environment.
“At the very basics, one reporter should know how to captivate and become relevant to audiences across different platforms,” Amupadhi said.
The conference kicked off in Windhoek yesterday and will continue in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, today, and conclude in Lilongwe, Malawi, tomorrow.
The conference is hosted by the Namibia Media Trust, Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi, the Centre for Innovation and Technology in Zimbabwe, and the DW Akademie with the aim to gauge the future of journalism education in the region.