Information and Communication Technology Minister Tjekero Tweya believes Namibian journalists are more than capable of reporting factually without blowing issues out of proportion, therefore encouraging them to do just that.
The local media industry needs to curb sensationalism because it bites into the credibility of the journalism profession, while possessing the danger of creating instability in the country – the minister said.
“You don’t have to sound controversial to be a true journalist,” Tweya said yesterday.
He made the remarks during his brief visit to New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC), where he addressed management and staff.
Tweya’s visit was part of his familiarisation tour to institutions under his ministry.
Tweya – appointed as information minister in March this year – has been lyrical on the subject of factual and responsible reporting since his appointment three months ago, but was quick to declare yesterday that he is in no way trying to dictate to the media what they should report on.
“I am fully aware of the Namibian Constitution, especially Article 21 that speaks about freedom of the press and expression, so I’m not in any way trying to intimidate anyone as has been misconstrued by some.”
He promised to uphold the long tradition of not interfering with the reporting of particularly State-owned media houses such as New Era, saying he trusts those leading these institutions to operate professionally and independent of political interference.
“News managers must do what is right. You can’t expect a minister to come and do that for you. I can’t dictate what should be written in the media, I can only emphasise the principle of good journalism,” he said.
“Sensational reporting destroys nations and we, as media, are not in the business of destroying our own nation.”
Namibia was again this year ranked first in Africa in terms of press freedom and 17th in the world, according to French-based group Reporters Without Borders.
The non-interference of political principals into the agenda of what is reported in the media is credited as one of the key factors sustaining Namibia’s supremacy on African press freedom charts.
Since his appointment as ICT minister in March, Tweya has visited seven of the country’s fourteen regions, namely Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana, Kavango West, Kavango East and Kunene.
He will visit the remaining seven regions soon, where he will visit the regional offices of institutions falling under his ministry.