THE Mozambican chapter of the press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has called on those reporters and editors who are working in the electoral offices of political parties "to clarify their situation urgently", according to a report on the news agency AIM.

The responsibility of journalists on the mass media during the current election campaign, MISA-Mozambique stresses, in a release received by AIM on Tuesday, is to provide truthful information to their readers, viewers and listeners.

A code of conduct for electoral coverage, approved by the editors of almost all the Mozambican media, stresses that journalists must act with independence, impartiality, objectivity and respect for human dignity. They should also respect the principle of equality of treatment for candidates, and show respect for ethical standards in the search for electoral information.

But MISA says it knows of the existence of journalists, some of them in the public sector media, "who are crassly violating some of the fundamental and noble values of the profession". In particular there are journalists who are advising or collaborating with the electoral offices of political parties, without suspending their normal professional activity in the media.

"In our opinion", MISA says, "journalists who behave like this are seriously violating basic principles of the profession, reflected in the Code of Conduct for Electoral Coverage, particularly those concerning impartiality, and equality of treatment and opportunity for candidates".

Impartiality, MISA added, meant that journalists should be "equidistant from the interests of candidates and political parties, and should refrain from accepting functions, tasks and benefits liable to limit their impartiality".

MISA-Mozambique urges journalists who are advising political parties to ensure that their situation is "clarified" as soon as possible, and editors not to allow such conflicts of interest to persist in their newsrooms.

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