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Malawian journalists using experts to fight Covid-19 misinformation

3 Jul, 2021
Journalists in Malawi are fighting misinformation around Covid-19 by providing expert-based information on the pandemic.

Since the detection of the first Covid-19 case in April 2020, misinformation and disinformation around the pandemic have hugely defined social media and street narrative in Malawi.

Station Manager for Nyanthepa Community Radio in Nsanje district David Guta said experts are the right vehicles of right information.

“So, what Nyanthepa is doing is to have round-table programmes, call experts from the district hospital and open the phone lines to community members for community members to ask questions about Covid-19. These questions are based on misinformation which they have and experts clear such misconceptions,” Guta said.

Jean Chilombo, Station Manager for Chisomo Community Radio in Salima district said the station is encouraging its staff to use information coming from credible sources in stories and programmes.

“We are there as eyes and ears of community members who may not have access to credible Covid-19 information,” Chilombo said.

Zodiak Broadcasting Station reporter for Ntchisi district Gift Du Phimba said journalists must be careful on what they share with the public.

“People believe what you say or share as a journalist whether on or off duty. Journalists need to take a leading role in sharing verified information,” Phimba said.

George Mhango, Rainbow TV Regional Manager for Southern Region and SABC Correspondent said he sensitises people on how to wear masks and follow other preventive measures aimed at dealing with the further spread of the pandemic.

To MIJ FM Radio reporter Georgia Chirombo, “the most important thing is to reach out to the masses with the facts around Covid-19.

“There is a lot of misinformation around how one gets infected and the questions around effectiveness of the vaccines,” Chirombo said.

Malawi News Agency Editor Fostina Mkandawire said verification of information that one gets is key in fighting both misinformation and the pandemic.

“People should always verify every information they get from social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook before believing what they hear or see,” Mkandawire said.

MISA Malawi is currently implementing Only Spreading Facts Campaign in partnership with DW Akademie, Germany’s leading organisation for media development. The aim of the campaign is to highlight projects that are fighting misinformation around Covid-19.

As of July 2, 2021, Malawi had confirmed 36,573 Covid-19 cases and 1,202 Covid-19-related deaths.

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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