By S. U. Thoronka
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) yesterday concluded a one day training workshop on media ethics at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, SLAJ Headquarters on Campbell Street, Freetown. The workshop attracted a cross section of media practitioners both from the electronic and the print right across the country.
MRCG was established as an independent corporate entity funded by the UNDP to act as the key driver of the media reform agenda in Sierra Leone. The MRCG has noted that there are more than a dozen statues that are being used to regulate the media in Sierra Leone ranging from constitutional provisions, Acts of Parliament to Codes of Practice or Ethics.
The workshop was intended to increase participants’ understanding of the various documents that exist on media ethics in Sierra Leone, and to make the media managers understand the key principles in the IMC’s Media Code of Practice.
The MRCG observed that in some of these pieces of legislation there is a big gap in the understanding and application of these regulations as it unfolds in the day to day work of the journalist both in the field and newsroom.
The Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, Ambassador Allieu Kanu in a brief statement said, when his team took over office, they vowed to continue to empower journalists through training. But that they were rendered handicapped by both the Ebola scourge and the austerity measures by government to improve the economy. He furthered that whenever journalists appear before the Commission they were always informed that journalism is a noble profession like any other profession. He, however lamented that some people are of the view that the IMC was created to punish journalists which he said was not true.
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Kelvin Lewis assured the MRCG that SLAJ was fully supportive of the workshop , adding that it was because of the indiscriminate arrest and incarceration of journalists that led to the formation of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists. He also noted that the Association still has problem with the government as well as colleague journalists who according to him ignore the ethics of the profession.
He advised that any matter that concerns a journalist should be referred to the IMC as a first port of call for arbitration and that the court should be the last resort when all options have been exhausted.
He lamented over the misuse of the social media by some members of the public and cautioned journalists to be professional in using the social media.
Mr. Tonya Musa, Lecturer in Mass Communications at Fourah Bay College (FBC) gave a public lecture on the topic; Why do Journalists need to worry about ethics?