Lungu accuses journalists of fanning conflict between him and his rivals

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President Edgar Lungu interactes with journalists at State House in Lusaka

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says he is appalled by the amounts of efforts Zambian journalists are putting in to wage conflict between him his political rivals.

Speaking in rare press briefing at State House in Lusaka on Friday, President Lungu noted that criticism was healthy in a democracy but argued that: “surely those few politicians that are quoted on a daily basis are not the only Zambians who have voices.”

President Lungu said there were millions of voices out there with fair opinions who deserve to be heard.

“I, therefore, urge you not to be crusaders of conflict between political players but to provide a forum for public discourse and compromise,” President Lungu advised.

President Lungu observed that the had the potential to build or destroy a nation; “therefore, let me urge you not to be swayed by the political shenanigans of the outside world as you do your professional work.”

The Head of State said he was proud that since the patriotic government assumed office, there had been great developments in the media, including the digitising of the airwaves.

“Conversely, we have seen the expansion of the media industry with the private sector taking the lead in the formation of radio and television companies. We have also seen the recruitment of young Zambians to take up positions in these new broadcasting companies,” he said.

President Lungu also advised players in the print media to be innovate so they could survive the harsh reality brought about by online publishing observing that the world had moved onto online publications “at a speed unimaginable since the advent of new media.”

“I, therefore, urge those of you who are still printing not to feel depressed, but to innovate so that you survive the harsh reality brought about by online publishing. Let me dare say that there are still thousands of readers who would still prefer hard copies to online publishing.”

President Lungu also expressed concern with what he termed “glaring disregard for journalism ethos coupled with sustained political bias.”

“You need to create a chasm between journalism and social media craze. This, no one can do apart from yourselves. Social media is for all; while journalism is for trained communicaters. But if you allow all and sundry to masquerade as journalists, your profession will perish,” he said.

“The coming of social media has meant individual citizens, themselves, passing content that they have no direct role in producing, and without verification. With social media we have seen that the truth is less important and the more exaggerated or inaccurate the communication is, the more it seems to attract readership,” President Lungu observed adding: “This is the tragedy that we face today.”

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