VMCZ is a professional media self-regulatory body set up in 2007 by Zimbabwean journalists and other stakeholders in civil society who subscribe …
VMCZ is a professional media self-regulatory body set up in 2007 by Zimbabwean journalists and other stakeholders in civil society who subscribe to the principles of media freedom, accountability, independence, and ethical journalism. VMCZ's mission is to promote a strong and ethical media with the ability to contribute to building a more democratic and just society within policy and legal environments that facilitate growth and development of independent, pluralistic, and free media. Specific objectives include: To safeguard the independence and integrity of the media profession by ensuring effective and professional self-regulation in the print and broadcasting media; To promote high ethical and professional journalistic standards; To serve as a medium of understanding and education between the public and the media; and To monitor media trends, course content, and ethics in media training institutions and to consult and offer advice and support to such institutions.
VMCZ's work is based on the 1991 Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, which says that an "independent, pluralistic and free Press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation and for economic development", as well as on the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, adopted by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, which proclaims in Article IX (3) that "effective self regulation is the best system of promoting high standards in the media."
The VMCZ receives, mediates, and adjudicates complaints by individuals and organisations against the media: "Has the press invaded your privacy or forced you to speak when you wish to remain silent? While it's the duty of the media to pursue a story, underhand[ed] ways of gathering news or invasion of privacy violate journalism ethics." In this way, VMCZ seeks to form a buffer between the public and the media and to serve as a medium of understanding between the two. VMCZ offers hands-on training in journalism with the ambition to support balanced, accurate, and impartial reporting. The Institute for Further Education of Journalists (Fojo Media Institute) is an institutional partner supporting the secretariat in its advocacy work and building training capacity in the country. The partnership includes in-house training at several media houses as well as workshops for the media and the public. For example:
- Bulawayo Doing Ethics Workshop (May 19-20 2009) - VMCZ and Fojo brought together 20 journalists from Bulawayo with the aim of learning lessons and improving media responsibility and accountability.
- From August 6-7 2009, VMCZ held a media ethics workshop for Zimbabwe Association of Editors (ZAE) members in Kadoma (ZAE represents editors from the state and several community newspapers.)
- An investigative training workshop was held from October 12-16 2009 in the ancient town of Masvingo. The objective was to impart knowledge and skills for in-depth investigative reporting stories. 22 participants drawn from Zimbabwe's 8 community radio initiatives took part in two 5-day radio training workshops. The training was held in anticipation of the Inclusive Government issuing licenses to community radio stations as prescribed under the Global Political Agreement. The training therefore aimed at imparting basic radio programming and presentation skills.
- VMCZ exhibited at the Masvingo Agricultural Show as part of the public awareness campaign. About 200 members of the public visited the stand.