President Joyce Banda has defended her recent outbursts of the media in the country, saying the press too needs to be criticised to ensure that Malawi has a free and professional media.

The President said this through her Press Secretary Steve Nhlane, a few days after she accused some media houses of disseminating “confusing” messages to the public.

Speaking on Sunday last week during the dedication of the new Balaka CCAP church, Banda, however, did not name the confusing media houses.

In a questionnaire response from The Daily Times, Nhlane, who also declined to name the media houses in question, said the President was referring to the need for media practitioners to be professional.

He argued that some of the stories published in the media leave a lot to be desired.

“Where in a country with a population of 13 million people, a newspaper uses a sample of 1,200 and extrapolates their views on the whole population. Professionally that is unacceptable. No professor of a credible academic institution can accept that,” Nhlane said.

He further said that it is not only media people who have rights, but also the people who the media write about.

“The media is not beyond reproach. When the media gets things wrong, there is need to point out those wrongs. It is 100 percent right to point out shortfalls in and among the media practitioners. They too need to be criticised when they are not doing the right things,” he said.

However, Anthony Kasunda, Regional Chairperson of Media Institute for Southern Africa, who also leads the organisation’s local chapter, faulted the President for publicly attacking the media.

He said on Thursday that it was wrong for Banda not coming out clear to mention names of the media houses in question.

“The President should at all cost desist from the temptation of fighting the media. When the President feels that the media is going wrong, there are appropriate channels and relevant bodies where her office can take such grievances,” said Kasunda in an interview.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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