MASERU - Freedom of expression and the press are the key elements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the United States of America, according to the US Ambassador to Lesotho, Matthew T. Harrington
at the opening of an Investigative Journalism and Media Professionalization workshop yesterday.
The training which started yesterday and scheduled to end on Friday is organized by the US Embassy in Maseru in collaboration with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho.
“The purpose of the workshop is to familiarize journalists with methods and models for investigative reporting and to encourage journalists to hold themselves up to the highest professional standards,” said Harrington.
He said the US Embassy is proud to support the workshop on investigative journalism because they believe that media freedom is vital to a thriving democracy.
He further indicated that the press helps citizens to call attention to the issues they care about and also helps governments to understand how their actions are being perceived.
“As my boss, Secretary of State John Kerry has said: “People everywhere count on a free press to keep us informed, to hold leaders accountable, to filter fact from fiction and to unmask false narratives masquerading as truth,” said the US Ambassador.
He continued: “It is exciting to see such strong interest in deepening and broadening your skills as journalists. I also want to thank the Honorable Minister, Khotso Letsatsi for joining us and that he has spoken about the challenges facing the media in Lesotho.”
The US Ambassador also stated that a free and vibrant press is essential in a democratic society and therefore mentioned that journalists have a fundamental obligation to get the story right and to hold themselves to the highest professional standards.
He reminded the journalists to report stories that are accurate, unbiased and fully supported by facts. “Journalists have a fundamental obligation to get the story right and to hold themselves to highest professional standards,” said the Ambassador.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communication Science and Technology, Khotso Letsatsi encouraged the journalists to stick to journalistic ethics when they report.
He further said it was his belief that the investigative journalism training would change the current situation with regard to how most Lesotho journalists report.
“This training will change social, economic as well the political life of this country. We all know that the media becomes the backbone of democracy, silent watchdogs that remain for the society,” said the Minister.
He concluded by stating that Lesotho needs professional journalists who could contribute to the countries’ development.
During the discussions, journalists mentioned some of the following as the obstacles in doing investigative journalism: Lack of resources such as transport, fear to ask questions, threats from sources, not knowing the kind of questions to ask, as well as working under pressure or having unlimited time.
Trainer in the ongoing workshop is the US Journalist Lucinda Fleeson, who has extensive international training experience in investigative reporting, narrative storytelling and reporting on social issues.
There are 25 local journalists undergoing the training.