The Malawi Red Cross Society has asked journalists to desist from reporting news in a manner that would fuel political violence ahead of the May 21 polls.

Malawi Red Cross communication expert, Felix Washon, made the appeal when the society trained scribes in Peace Reporting Thursday, in Mzuzu.

Washon said media was one of the trusted means of communication hence the need for it to report facts and censor content likely to fuel violence.

“Misrepresented facts can be very dangerous but at the same time, correct facts delivered sensationally can be disastrous.

“My plea to all journalists is that before a story is sent for publication or broadcast, be your own judge of that story to see if it has potential to either build peace or fuel conflict,” he said.

He advised journalists to be professional by hiding their political affiliation, which he said was also one way of promoting their own security.

“It is true that journalists are also humans, however, taking sides during the election period may put your life, job and also company equipment at risk.

“In the past, we have seen journalists being manhandled and in some instances company property being damaged or confiscated by angry party supporters just because one was identified with a particular party or grouping,” he said.

He emphasized that one’s safety surpasses duty.

Participants to the training were trained on use of modern mobile applications which will enable them take professional photographs and videos and edit them with their phones.

Nyika Media Club Chairperson, Mandy Pondani appreciated the society for the expertise which she said was influential to journalists.

“The skills that we have learnt here will help us a lot because some media houses do not have enough equipment like cameras, but with the use of the mobile application provided by Red Cross, we will be able to do our work professionally using our phones,” she said.

According to Washon, Red Cross Society responds to natural and manmade disasters and in this election period, the society is engaging various stakeholders to work towards preventing conflicts which may lead to disasters.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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