Cablegate: Editorial Marks Press Freedom Day
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UNCLAS HARARE 001071
AF/PD FOR COX AND ROBERTSON, AF/S FOR KRAFT AND
SCHLACHTER, AF/RA FOR DIPALMA, INR/R/MR, NSC FOR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: EDITORIAL MARKS PRESS FREEDOM DAY
1. Under headline "Facts are sacred, comment is free"
the independent weekly "The Financial Gazette"
dedicated its May 3 editorial to encouraging the media
in Zimbabwe, especially the privately owned press, to
"start showing zero tolerance to perverted journalism."
The editorial, appearing on World Press Freedom Day,
comes as the Government of Zimbabwe is actively
threatening the independent press. Editorial excerpts
2. ". . .Journalists anywhere in the world walk a
minefield of truths, half-truths, deceit and lies
and yet it is their absolute professional duty at
all times to check and counter-check the
information given to them by whomever before they
cobble up a story. Although mistakes may occur if
only because journalists are human, these must be
rare and defensible - morally and legally - not
that this makes them any better. The bigger the
story, the greater the need for any journalist to
take extraordinary measures to verify it with all
possible sources before rushing to be the first
with the news. In Zimbabwe, journalists face a
particularly harsh operating climate. They have to
contend with an unpopular government which loathes
the media's prying eyes and has enacted draconian
laws specifically targeting the independent media.
. . .But the forces ranged against Zimbabwe's
independent media are not just overzealous state
mandarins eager to protect their jobs, but many
other equally powerful organized interest groups
which similarly feel uncomfortable with the
coverage of what they regard as negative news. It
thus becomes imperative that all journalists get
their act together by ensuring that all their news
dispatches are as accurate, balanced and fair as is
humanly possible. . . Any news report which fails
this test can only play into the hands of the
forces which seek to muzzle the media for whatever
reason under the guise of the public or national
interest, or of national security, or of national
defense. . ."