Lister tells Namibian journalists to aim for excellence

2024-01-24

A full day and night Media Summit and Awards Ceremony, dedicated to shedding light on Gender Violence and Femicide (GBV-F), Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and Mental Health (MH) matters, was successfully hosted by the One Economy Foundation on 19 January at The Weinberg.

The Summit, attended by 44 media practitioners and 10 professionals, aimed to deepen the understanding of GBV-F and SRHR dynamics among media practitioners. The goal was to foster empathetic and responsible reporting, ultimately contributing to positive societal change. The Media Awards, a platform celebrating impactful reporting on GBV-F and SRHR topics, was a pivotal component of the event.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng emphasised that when journalists have the power to act, it is their responsibility to do their best and be great in their capacities.

“When we erase children, particularly the boy child, from a conversation about GBV-F and SRHR, we let them down and continue the cycle of violence, the abuse becomes the abuser,” she added.

Mofokeng urged media practitioners to consider the human rights of their sources and advocated for unbiased reporting that dismantles harmful opinions affecting survivors negatively.

Gender and Child Protection Specialist at the One Economy Foundation, Dr. Veronica Theron said that when journalists report on GBV-F, they must do so with the best interest of the survivors in mind.

She emphasised that sexual predators should not be framed as monsters, but as people who do monstrous acts.

“Perpetrators are our fathers, professors, and medical doctors, and when media practitioners report on SRHR, they must consider the deep root causes, such as power dynamic and patriarchy, that perpetrate SRHR issues,” she said.

She said the role that journalists have in advocacy is the ability to go beyond, just writing stories, but to dig deep into the systems involved.

Media Ombudsman and Law and Human Rights Lecturer, John Nakuta, urged journalists to prioritize seeking and reporting the context of the story over quick reporting. He underscored the power and influence journalists and editors hold, stating that they cannot be innocent bystanders in the fight against GBV-F.

The Mental Health impacts of exposure to GBV-F news were discussed in a Mind Matters session with Specialist Psychiatrist, Dr. Daleen De Lange, who encouraged journalists to set boundaries and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Closing off the summit, Chartered Accountant Klestina Kauhondamwa delivered a presentation on personal financial well-being, advising journalists to budget, save, insure, and invest when possible.

The Awards Ceremony recognized outstanding journalism, with winners including Selma Iyambo for her podcast on Sex Convos in African Households, Shelleygan Petersen from the Namibian for her story on N$15 per year for Sanitary Pads; Vitalio Angula from the Voice of America for his radio piece on Namibia introducing the HPV vaccine; Choolwe Siachoono from UNAM Radio was the runner up for VMMC; and in the television category, Gordon Joseph and Maria Kaluushi from NBC won for their story on Magdalena Stoffels, while Selma Ikela and Ketemba Tjipepa from One Africa were runner ups for Murdered Expected Teen.

Veteran Journalist, Gwen Lister emphasized the importance of recognizing good journalism, urging Namibian journalists to aim for excellence.

The One Economy Foundation emphasized that the Summit marks a continuation of its commitment to addressing GBV-F and SRHR issues, building on the success of the BreakFree GBV Media Trainings since 2019.

* Published in The Economist, January 24, 2024
* Photo: One Economy Foundation