Journalists have been urged to be on the same side with the police when covering protests. This move is meant to protect members of the fourth estate as well as making it easy to distinguish themselves from protesters.
This was said by the Minister of Information ,Media and Broadcast Services, Dr Chris Mushohwe while addressing journalists on the government’s position on cyber-terrorism.
Dr Mushohwe said journalists should always side with members of the police force if they need to be protected.
He was responding to a question on the safety of journalists in the wake of protests which turned violent a fortnight ago.
A number of journalists were brutally beaten by the police while others had their cameras confiscated, an act which was heavily condemned by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, and led to the ire of members of the fourth estate who threatened to shun any coverage in the near future if their safety concerns are not addressed.
“No one wants to see any journalist or any Zimbabwean being beaten by the police. But my message to all journalists is always stay on the police side so that in case the protests turn ugly, you will be protected. We do not want you to get hurt because you are an important component of our system, which is the reason why we created this ministry (Information Ministry),” Mushohwe said.
He challenged local journalists to follow international procedures where the police provides cover for the scribes in case of any mishap.
He said local journalists, however, tend to find pleasure in being part of the protesters which creates a problem in the event that the police chose to disperse the crowd using maximum force.
Mushohwe also urged journalists to report in a balanced manner.
He said “Do not promote hate speech or spread divisive and defamatory messages especially and constantly targeting the character and personality of the president as well as the first family unjustifiably all out of malice.”