Poor working conditions of Zambian journalists


By Laura Miti

Working Conditions in Private Media Houses are Just Shocking!

None of the commentary on the shocking standards of journalism in Zambia ever address one of the main root causes. It is the appalling work conditions in just about all private stations.

Maybe, the Ministry of Labour can check the following in private media houses:

1. Salary amounts.

2. If those salaries are a consistent amount each month.

3. If the salaries come every month.

4. If there are set pay days.

5. If salaries are paid into bank accounts or in cash (ZRA check that!)

6. If salaries are a fair reflection of how much the media house makes.

7. Working hours.

8. Leave days.

9. How many media workers have contracts.

10. NAPSA, NHIMA and ZRA payments.

Simply, the most basic research will show that in Zambia, most journalists, especially in private stations, are treated like slave labour. Owners of stations are focused on profits to the total neglect of the costs required for a healthy media house.

With owners pocketing almost all takings, journalists spend their days chasing what they call blalizo (transport refund at events they cover).

Now, it goes without saying that, in that situation, story coverage is not informed by professional considerations.
Journalists go where they will be paid to report as the payer wants. It is why we hear politicians insult reporters by announcing a transport refund at their press briefings. That’s like throwing bait to in a pond of hungry fish.

It is not that journalists do not care that it is against basic media ethics for a journalist to accept any payment, including transport refund, from a source. It is that if they were to refuse the refunds like they should, they would starve. Again, transport refunds have become the most reliable and, in some cases, highest source of income for reporters. Now just think about that!

All that to say we will not have professional journalism as long as journalists are treated so badly by the industry. Treated by owners of media houses like dispensable pieces of furniture. Like farm labour, on a Boer farm, during apartheid.


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