[RC's Statement] at the UN Media Training Workshop

The United Nations has been supporting national efforts in building and strengthening the capacity of media institutions and personnel.  This workshop allows to further efforts of previous trainings aimed at strengthening the capacity of the media. In 2011, the UN provided training to 45 journalists in humanitarian and development reporting. And earlier this year the UN sent three Zimbabwean journalists to the UN Staff College in Italy for training on Labour and Social Issues reporting.

The UN supports freedom of the press everywhere – the freedom of opinion and expression. This support emanates from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Equally important, the media with specific reference to the collective entity of newsprint, electronic and web-based, plays a very important role in national development, which involves advancement in political, economic and social wellbeing of people.

Every medium has a message; it has a target audience; it aims at influencing a change; it influences attitudes, perceptions and decision making; and it generally influences behavior.
As such, media represents the tool for shaping public opinion, promoting development, democracy and good governance, facilitating nation-building and promoting policies that promote high quality of life. In addition, over the years, media freedom has enabled the emergence of new ways to communicate, to share information and knowledge, and for people to widen their sense of participation, identity and belonging.

Zimbabweans today enjoy access to numerous channels of information, including newsprint, electronic media such as radio and television as well as web-based media such as the internet and mobile telephony. These channels, if utilized and valued responsibly, usher immense opportunities for the development of Zimbabwe. Therefore, to succeed in its role, the media must be and remain professional and objective. Factors such as media bias, sensationalism and distortions negatively affect the contribution of media to national development. Freedom of the media must therefore go along with responsibility.

I encourage you all participating media practitioners to take advantage of the prevailing press space to empower and transform the citizens of this country to take ownership of the development process in order to determine their own national destiny.

The United Nations will continue to support capacity development of partners in the media by strengthening professional journalism, to ensure that the enabling environment exists for more analytical, objective and accurate news reportage. By so doing, we shall not only be enhancing development journalism in this country, but additionally fostering deeper commitment by various development actors to play their role in the development of the country and to respond adequately to humanitarian needs.

I trust that this workshop and subsequent field visits to UN supported programmes will contribute to your capability to inspire your audience to do great things in positively impacting the lives of all Zimbabweans. 

I wish you a successful workshop.
Thank you.