Newly-appointed Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo called on the mainstream media to uphold “the national interest”.
By mainstream media he was referring to both the public and private stakeholders in the field of gathering and disseminating media products.
But, what is the national interest?
From a nationalist point of view, the national interest can be defined as safeguarding our independence and sovereignty. It is about state security in the face of external threats, and about safeguarding our place in the commonwealth of nations.
The above definition makes the national interest a calling each journalist and media house should answer to.
Obviously, the national interest is deeper than that. It also means the people are governed properly, in such a way that the millions living in abject poverty have their lot lifted. Good governance therefore becomes one of the pillars of the national interest.
If the majority of our citizens continue to languish in poverty, they become restive and inadvertently invite foreign interest.
The majority of our people have to enjoy their civil liberties and human rights without hindrance from the powerful. Those in the corridors of power should continually present themselves to public scrutiny. Opaque governance should be probed; so should corruption. In the past we have seen how absolute power has corrupted lots of our leaders, much to the detriment of the public good.
When leaders are left to themselves without any checks and balances, there is a natural tendency to alienate themselves from the people, leading to neglect and the worsening of the people’s plight.
This is where the media comes in; the national interest cannot be upheld by a fawning media. The see-nothing, hear-nothing and say-nothing approach characteristic of the public media in the recent past therefore has no place in an atmosphere where the national interest has to be safeguarded.
Only a robust press that is brave enough to take a critical interest in how national affairs are being handled can safeguard the national interest. When the media exposes government excesses, greed and corruption, it is doing so in the national interest. There should not be any duplicity about this.