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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Sierra Leone Journalists Question APC Manifesto

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Sierra Leone Journalists Question APC Manifesto

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However, critical thinkers say it is an affront for the APC Manifesto to liken professional journalism to ‘citizen-journalism’ because whereas the one is a profession the other is not.

It could be recalled that Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma when he was seeking the people’s mandate campaigned on the platform of developing the media through freedom of expression and repealing the draconian Libel laws which criminalize free speech. Now that he is about to retire, these promises have still not been realized and the incoming APC president if he is elected is making very little mention of what his next government intends to do for the media in the profession.

The SLPP Manifesto dubbed ‘New Direction – The People’s Manifesto’ takes cognizance of the importance of media and its development. It states under a section titled: “Promoting Press Freedom and Strengthening Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that governance is the process through which state and non-state actors interact to design and implement policies within a set of formal and informal rules that shape and are shaped by power.

It adds that: “It is for this reason that the media and civil society have become the bedrock of modern governance. In Sierra Leone, the media and CSOs are at the forefront in holding state actors accountable. 

The SLPP Manifesto further states: “The Fourth Estate has been very useful in informing and educating the public on governance issues. Since 2002, there has been a proliferation of press houses and radio stations. The Independent Media Commission (IMC) was established with responsibility to enforce professional ethics in journalism.”

It says further states that “In the New Direction, the next SLPP administration will introduce the following reforms for the common good: Repeal the Seditious Libel law; Adopt policies and laws to develop the capacity of journalists; Support the School of Journalism and other institutions to train journalists; Provide funding opportunities for journalists to establish press houses as corporate entities; Encourage the private sector to invest in the media; Provide a budgetary subvention to SLAJ; Enhance the capacity of the IMC to enforce the IMC Act; Review the legal and operational status of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation  SLBC to make it a truly professional national broadcaster; Facilitate full implementation of Right to Access Information Act; Provide an opportunity for non-state actor quota to be reflected in aid received by the State from donors; Review donor funding architecture to establish a level playing field for NGOs and CSOs; Streamline government operations especially in the Office of the President with a view to making it leaner, smarter, efficient and effective.”

More details next edition.

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