Print media coverage of human rights in Zambia: A case of the Post Newspaper and Zambia Daily Mail
Sakala, Mwakonkha Thomas
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In general, the research aimed at analysing the print media coverage of human rights in Zambia as characterised by The Post and Zambia Daily Mail and to establish how they engage other actors in protecting and promoting human rights. Specifically, it sought to establish the magnitude and trends of human rights content in the two dailies; why and how they include rights issues in their content; how and to what extent they engage other actors to promote and protect human rights; the challenges they encounter in doing so; and whether their content can influence and effect meaningful change to the Zambian society. Accordingly, the study triangulated to collect data from the public, a human rights expert, newspaper staff, and did a content analysis of the two dailies for the month of April 2013. Data was analysed using SPSS and according to research questions. The findings indicate that the magnitude of human rights in the two dailies is low across all the units of analysis - news stories, columns, editorials, letters-to-editor and advertisements and the available content is disproportionate – more of civil rights, economic and social rights, and less of political rights and cultural rights. Secondly, the inclusion of human rights hinges on both policy and individual journalistic conviction while the issues covered are subject to standard news selection criteria and weighted against economic goals. Thirdly, there is polarity on the aspect of engagement of other actors by the two dailies. The latter contend they engage other actors through columns, letters and as sources, while the former feel they are not availed the platform. Fourthly, the newspapers revealed challenges including victim averseness to disclose information; bureaucracy in obtaining evidence; and administrative challenges. Lastly, the human rights related change attributable to the two newspapers is marginal. Ensuing the findings, the study recommends that: 1) Government enacts the FoIB for the media to easily access pertinent information to effectively promote and protect human rights. 2) Colleges, through the Ministry of Education and the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) and universities should intensify teaching of and increase the number of human rights courses. 3) The media should play the mobilization and or advocacy role more often by running commentary on stories such as court cases as opposed to just reporting the verdict. 4) The media covers all segments of human rights rather than having a narrow view of human rights. 5) The media publicizes the available opportunities for audience involvement as well as the procedures to which inputs such as letters to the Editor, SMS and columns are subjected.