ONE of the biggest threats to the profession of journalism is the emergency of fake news that is often perpetrated by ‘quacks’ within the media fraternity.
They have abused social media by spreading lies that do not contribute to nation-building. Their aim is to destroy and instigate regime change.
It is an unethical practice that those who have chosen journalism as a calling abhor. There is no respect for the truth.
Fake news is not only the practice of feeding the public with lies, but could also do irreparable harm to a country’s security.
No wonder President Edgar Lungu has come out strongly against fake news by asking his new special assistant for press and public relations, Isaac Chipampe, to tackle fake news vigorously.
That the President has again spoken out against those promoting fake news shows how serious the problem is.
It is an open secret that some of the problems facing the country, particularly on the economy, have largely been attributed to fake news that has been peddled by some opposition leaders and their puppets.
Some have even gone to the extent of claiming that the country was ungovernable, and that there was a break-down in the rule of law.
To an outsider reading such articles, the immediate reaction would be to withhold or withdraw their planned investment in the country.
Fake news has also been responsible for the weakening of the Kwacha, the country’s currency.
Another example has been attempts by doomsayers to twist facts over the government’s decision to divorce itself from Vedanta Resources over Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
There have even been claims by some so-called “presidents-in-waiting” that the move was a ploy by the government to steal resources from the mining firm.
With all this animosity against Government, Mr Chipampe has his work cut out for him – ensuring that the public gets correct information on what the government is doing.
President Lungu advised Mr Chipampe to always put official information in the public domain on time to stop media houses that are thriving in the industry by feeding the people with lies.
Said the President: “…I can only urge you to do the best by putting information in the public domain timeously so that people get to know the truth so that we put an end to those who are thriving in the industry of peddling falsehoods”.
We have no doubt that Mr Chipampe will be equal to the task. He is no greenhorn in the media industry, having risen through the ranks.
We do realise that he has a mammoth task ahead of him. We say this from experience having been victims of fake news ourselves.
But as the Holy Bible teaches “the truth will set you free”.
And in this vein, Mr Chipampe has to ensure that the public is given accurate information, however negative it might be, so that the people can make informed decisions.
Yes, the media, like most other professions, has been infiltrated by those without any shame or integrity who easily throw professionalism to the winds.
For our part, we stand to defend the sanctity of a free press and trust that even those who thrive on abusing social media might finally see the light and realise their folly, that their mission should be to defend Zambians and their country.
That fake news has no place.