Radio stations urged to be credible in their coverage and dissemination of information
Lusaka, 10 February 2022: As Zambia joins the rest of the World in commemorating the 2022 World Radio Day on Sunday 13th February, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) urges radio stations to ensure credibility in their work if radio is to thrive as a trusted source of information.
World Radio Day is commemorated every year on 13th February to celebrate radio as a medium of communication and how it shapes people’s lives. Radio remains one of the world’s most trusted and widely used media as it does not only inform, educate, and entertain, but transforms and brings people together. This year, Word Radio Day is being commemorated under theme “Radio and Trust”.
Radio continues to be accepted as reliable and affordable means of accessing and sharing information, especially by underprivileged communities in far flung areas. Radio provides a quick access to information that empowers people to make informed decisions and achieve positive change for themselves and their communities.
Panos considers radio as its main ally in its work of providing vital life changing information to marginalized and underprivileged communities, particularly in rural areas, and a platform through which they amplify their voices and influence the development agenda. Radio has been instrumental in the many achievements Panos has scored in its work of ensuring that information is used to foster social change and social accountability, with the poor and marginalized being active players.
However, Panos is concerned that the upsurge of misinformation associated with the media around such issues as the COVID 19 pandemic is eroding public trust in radio, a situation that in turn threatens the very essence of its existence – to positively transform lives of the people that access its services. This mistrust in radio has further been fueled by the circulation of misinformation, disinformation, and content of hate speech on social media.
It is for this reason that PSAf challenges the radio stations to ensure that the information and content they channel out is credible. They can achieve this by taking advantage of the various technologies and fact checking tools that will enable them to critically examine credentials and affiliations of sources and authors of content they use to develop their content. This evaluation process will ensure that whatever information they receive and share is credible and reliable, and does not erode the trust of their listeners, clients and stakeholders, including the business community that support radio financially.
As an organisation that extensively works with and through radio, PSAf has partnered with various stakeholders to build the capacity of radio in many areas of its work, especially development and dissemination of credible and useful content to its array of audiences. To this effect, Panos is currently working with Internews, FHI360, Bloggers of Zambia and MiSA Zambia in implementing a USAID funded Open Spaces Zambia initiative that is not only complementing Government efforts but also support radio to strengthen the democratic foundations of freedom of speech and assembly; enhance space for activists, human rights defenders, and voices to protect the democratic spaces in Zambia and the region at large. In addition, Panos is supporting the efforts of media to ensure credibility of their content through the iVerify Zambia platform, a technology-based fact checking and response mechanism. Through these interventions, Panos aims to empower radio stations, especially community radio stations with critical investigative reporting and content development skills so as to enhance their abilities to widely research their news topics and sources, and in turn strengthen their credibility and public trust of radio as the most reliable source of information.
Panos recognizes the challenges that radio stations and their staff face and the sacrifices they make to generate and disseminate content. The World Radio Day is therefore a worthy occasion to celebrate the efforts of radio and its strides in keeping the world informed and on the development path. The challenges that radio stations grapple with, especially financial and technical difficulties, should not be seen as an opportunity by financiers to exploit and compromise their editorial independence, or for the radio stations to succumb to exploitative support that erodes their credibility and public trust.
Therefore, we call on the government, stakeholders, and other well-wishers to use the World Radio Day to reflect on the plight of radio and ways the medium can sustainably be supported to grow and remain a reliable and trustworthy source of information for the public.
Programmes Manager, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)