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» »Unlabelled » Decentralise public relations offices for easy access to information, journalists say


BY JOHN MURWIRA

Journalists from Mashonaland West province have challenged organisations to decentralise their public relations offices from national to provincial level, or even to districts, as this would go a long way in helping journalists to easily get information held by public institutions.
Speaking during a 2020 Transparency Index Report launch conducted by the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Chinhoyi recently, scribes from across the media divide concurred there is need to decentralise public relations offices for easy access to information.
"We as journalists coming from provinces, we think there is need to have functional public relations offices where we get timeous responses to our information requests.
"This makes our jobs easier so that we write well-sourced stories, and avoid scripting copies with anonymous sources, a trend which degrades professionalism" said James Muonwa, NewsAnchor founding managing editor.
Farai Chikore, a correspondent for government-controlled NewZiana lamented beauracracy which is pervasive in government institutions.
"The issue of bureaucracy is really affecting us as you keep on being referred to national spokespersons for comments. You might be having first hand information or be onsite of a news beat but you would need official comment, for example from the police, but you are frustrated.
"Decentralisation must come with powers for the provincial or district media public relations officers to give responses to information requests as some of the PR officers seem to be powerless to respond, but refer us to national spokespersons," said Chikore.
MISA board member and former editor of The Standard, Davison Maruziva urged media lobbysts to push for further relaxation of media legislation curtailing easy access to information held by public institutions.-LOCAL NEWS.

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