CHANGE. A six-letter word that’s easily spelled than done. This concept is basically embedded in every platform and in any campaign speech we hear from presidential candidates. But if there’s one thing we have in common with these aspiring presidents, it is our desire for change. In fact, it is most likely the only thing the candidates agree amongst themselves.
In Malawi, journalists belonging to MISA will go to polls next month to elect new office bearers for the next four years.
Frank Phiri and Tereza Ndanga will battle it out for the highest position to replace Thom Khanje.
Both camps have promised journalists one thing: CHANGE.
Phiri’s slogan is #itsAboutUs while Ndanga is going for #JournalismFirst.
As journalists (both in the mainstream and those not in the mainstream) we want change to happen at MISA.
As we are publishing this, MISA doesn’t have ownership. Since its inspection, the body has been used by greedy politicians to fulfil their wishes.
Unlike in other countries, journalism in Malawi is regarded as a poor profession. These sentiments are applied because of the way journalists are treated by their employers in their respective working places.
Some media houses are paying journalists as little as K20,000 per month. As if this is not enough, other media houses have failed to pay their journalists for the last seven months.
If journalists are not being paid, how do you expect them to survive?
In Malawi, the environment journalists are working in is very pathetic. Journalists have now been reduced to beggars in search of good life. But as MISA, what has the body done to try to work with Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA) in order to improve the welfare of journalists in the country.
Even when awarding journalists, other categories continue to be sidelined by MISA, when will the body realise that sports journalists are also journalists? When will the body realise that an art and entertainment journalist is also a journalist who deserves to be recognised?
Time has come to fight for journalists in the country.
Companies have taken advantage of our economic statuses by inviting us to cover for their events only to be given K5000 in allowances yet others are getting K40 000 in allowances per day at the same event.
Online media hasn’t been spared either as it has been sidelined by media bodies in Malawi. We talk of covering events, online media faces stiff opposition from media bodies yet information is made available to the masses within seconds.
MISA should also move with time. If there is a profession where one can just wake up and claim to be a professional, it is the journalism industry.
We have seen other professions like Nurses and Midwifery Association of Malawi, Bankers Association of Malawi, Malawi Law Society and many more, accrediting only those who are eligible but why does media bodies fail to accredit journalists who are eligible? Why is it that a person can just wake up and claim to be a journalist yet he/she is not?
Time has come to safeguard our profession. Not everyone is a journalist. MISA should try to bring sanity into the industry by making sure that those eligible are the ones working as journalists.
We need change, we are the fourth arm of government. We fight for the poor yet we are failing to fight for our rights. It’s time to act. Make MISA a body worth joining.
We are hoping for a change. The change that these aspiring candidates is not the change we love to happen but the change that MISA needs.
We are hoping to see a changed MISA from 6th May onwards. It begins with us. We cannot keep on fighting for others yet we fail to fight for ourselves. Let MISA create a very conducive environment for all media practitioners in Malawi. Change is what we need.