MISA Lesotho concerned over journalists doubling as politicians

MISA Lesotho issues this statement in grave concern over the growing rate of conduct by some “journalists” who actively meddle in the affairs of political parties under the guise they are doing their job as media practitioners

MISA Lesotho issues this statement in grave concern over the growing rate of conduct by some “journalists” who actively meddle in the affairs of political parties under the guise they are doing their job as media practitioners, yet theirs is clearly to campaign for and against certain political parties openly on social media platforms hoping for their own personal gain.

These pseudo-journalists, MISA Lesotho observed, are either used by some political elites to propagate political party differences on social media, or are active politicians themselves masquerading as media professionals, abusing journalism as their channel into political recognition.

They disregard and violate all ethical practices and conduct enshrined in journalism as they engage themselves in political party differences on social media – behaving much like foot soldiers for certain political elites.

MISA Lesotho notes with disappointment that this malpractice seems to be growing at a worrying rate specifically with pseudo-journalists at some private radio stations.

What is most saddening about these pseudo-journalists is that they tend to seek refuge at MISA Lesotho when they lose their personal political fights. They drag MISA Lesotho’s name into disrepute by using the Institute as their umbrella in their personal political battles.

MISA Lesotho is not, and cannot be used as a scapegoat by politicians masquerading as journalists.

MISA Lesotho, therefore, issues this public statement to distance the Institute from media practitioners who are unsure whether they are “journalists” or active politicians. The Institute wishes to bring to the attention of the nation that not all journalists in the country are its members – MISA Lesotho membership is voluntarily.

MISA Lesotho members subscribe to ethical journalism and strive for compliance with the set journalism standards. Specifically, all members of MISA Lesotho know for a fact that they cannot be seen to be personally meddling actively in political party affairs.

The membership of MISA Lesotho is open to all members of the society, including, but not limited to, teachers, lawyers, trade unionists, civil rights advocates, institutions and ordinary Basotho. However, the membership remains stringently closed to active politicians.

So, no journalist who is a member of MISA Lesotho can be seen to be personally meddling actively in the affairs of political parties. MISA Lesotho, therefore, assures the general public that the pseudo-journalists with the behaviour described earlier in this statement are not members of the Institute.

However, MISA Lesotho, being a media advocacy and lobby non-governmental organisation that promotes media freedom, pluralism and diversity among others, does not turn a blind eye where ethics are infringed, even outside membership of the organisation. This is why MISA Lesotho regularly organises media trainings and capacity building workshops to nourish all interested journalists, and this is not limited to members only.

MISA Lesotho makes an appeal to all media proprietors, publishers, managers and editors, particularly to those in the private radio stations space, to keep a close eye on their “journalists” and initiate disciplinary measures for misconduct of their reporters even outside the newsrooms.

A good reporter knows he/she carries not only his/her name in public, but also the name of his/her media house and the colleagues as well. A journalist acting loose on social media loses credibility both for him/herself and for the media organisations they work for.

MISA Lesotho is proud of many Basotho journalists who remain resolute in adhering to ethical practice and conduct in their everyday duties. The Institute cannot mince words condemning media practitioners doubling as active party politicians and using newsrooms for political recognition.

MISA Lesotho members are reminded that when they join active party politics, they lose their membership effective immediately.

About MISA Lesotho

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.