The Mass Media's Quest for freedom of Information in Zambia: Opportunites, challenges and lessons
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This study examined the mass media’s quest for freedom of information in Zambia; opportunities, challenges and lessons. The purpose of the study was to determine the reasons why there is lack of freedom of information in Zambia despite an attempt by the government to present the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB) in parliament more than 10 years ago. The specific focus of the study was to identify the barriers that affect free flow of information to the public. The study used both quantitative methods and qualitative surveys to ensure that all the required data were collected. For the quantitative survey, a total of 150 questionnaires were administered in Lusaka and Mongu using multistage cluster sampling. Focus group discussions using a prompt list of questions and topics, and In-depth Interviews using interview guides were used to collect qualitative data from the same areas. The quantitative data were analysed through the use of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software while Paradigm Interpretive was used to analyze qualitative data. The major findings of the study were that this country was at the time of writing still far from achieving freedom of information. Among the factors inhibiting the effective enactment, implementation and enforcement of freedom of information laws in Zambia were the low levels of awareness within the general population about the existence of the freedom of information laws elsewhere in the world and how useful they are. It was, therefore, recommended that there was need for positive and speedy action to put in place relevant awareness programs and new progressive media legislation. Other actions to be taken include repealing existing laws that impede freedom of the media and freedom of information. The findings from this study are also expected to encourage the government to urgently increase funding on FOI Act research projects in order for people to know and appreciate these laws.