Following a spike in fake news, particularly on social media, traditional media still has an important role to play in information dissemination and putting correct material on record.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa while delivering a public lecture at the Zimbabwe National Defence University (ZNDU) in Harare yesterday.
As she explained how the formal media operates, Sen Mutsvangwa denounced social media for sometimes being irresponsible.
Social media has lately been used to promote heinous agendas and to relay false information which was causing pandemonium in the country and in families.
“Traditional mass media have roles and responsibilities underpinned by sector professionalism where there is a writer, an editor and a transmitter or publisher.
“This puts pressure on the different functions to check and authenticate a story before it goes to the media consumers,” she said.
“If the publisher or broadcaster does not carry an ulterior motive, stories are checked, authenticated and corrected or put in the right context where necessary.
“The folly of most social media platforms is that the writer is his or her own editor and publisher. In other words, one can send out whatever information they desire, correct, mischievous, salacious or otherwise without regard to ethics,” said Sen Mutsvangwa.
She gave the example of last year’s #Zimbabweanlivesmatter movement that sought to depict Zimbabwe as a country in crisis and justify intervention by the international community.
She said the aim was not concern for the lives of Zimbabweans, but to push a regime change agenda.
Sen Mutsvangwa said some political activists were disguising themselves as journalists and warned that anyone abusing journalistic privileges as set by the law, needed to be punished.
President Mnangagwa has made it clear his administration will bring closure to governance issues through the dissemination of information.
Sen Mutsvangwa talked of the measures she has taken in her portfolio to deal with false information spread on social media.
“The best way to counter social media misinformation and disinformation is to make available the correct information to the citizens.
“The Ministry thus strives to disseminate the true story of Zimbabwe in real time. It is for this reason that we give post Cabinet media briefings every Tuesday and we vigorously gather, package and distribute information of what is happening in the country on a daily basis,” she said.
The minister said while the world marvelled at the opportunities brought by the Internet in sharing information, nations were grappling to come up with an effective framework to govern its use.
“Whilst the service providers can come up with user regulations and nations can also come up with laws such as our own Cyber Bill which is under enactment, enforcement is problematic owing to the transnational, ubiquitous and pervasiveness of the platform which allows anyone anywhere on earth to participate.”
Sen Mutsvangwa heaped praise on the important role the ZNDU was playing in moulding well informed officers needed in nation building.
She highlighted that the country had been put on a developmental trajectory and was moving towards the attainment of vision 2030, under which President Mnangagwa envisages rapid economic growth to create an upper middle income economy by the end of this decade.
“I also want to acknowledge the great work that the Zimbabwe National Defence University is doing by putting the final touch to the intellectual power of you, our senior officers, as you prepare for greater responsibilities in the ranks of our security forces as well as in Government at large.”
“You should be aware that His Excellency the President, Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, has set this nation a vision for us to become an upper middle income society by 2030.
“Government thus acknowledges the important role the Zimbabwe National Defence University is playing in producing officers with the requisite knowledge and gravitas,” said Sen Mutsvangwa.