Journalism without frontiers: Should journalists allow Mama Salone to suffer?
It is very unusual for a physician becoming a journalist. I guess there is a true reason to this. As Sierra Leoneans, we should all come together and work for the common good of our country and therefore we should dispense our duties diligently far from bias. Another reason could be that the mind as a powerful tool can produce many functions. Many thoughts can be translated into verbal while others emanate as printed words translated into scripts of books, journals which meanings depend on the thoughtful event.
Journalism in Sierra Leone is still growing and we should be grateful that unlike many countries, our civic right in voicing and expressing our opinions is up held; in fact as small as Sierra Leone is, we are producing the largest number of newspapers in a short time after a post war period. We should therefore use this opportunity diligently in educating our masses. The media is a very powerful tool and if well utilized can bring a lot of positive effect that can generate changes.
We have seen many powerful politicians that have successfully used the media on their way to victory through democratic processes accentuated by media. Dictators are now worried what next the media can do their regimes without firing a bullet. Journalism in our country needs to be more vibrant and refined. Controversial issues should be weighed carefully by journalists before airing them out. It is of course impossible to remain skeptical or patriotic all the time by different journalists as I have observed but the fact is we should bear in mind that as a healing nation, our passions of writing should be geared towards a peaceful direction rather than that of incitement or sadist behavior.
A journalist must know the difference between a source and a subject, because all reporting involves a source and a subject. A subject is whatever a journalist investigates, and a source is whatever answers the journalist’s questions. The most basic way to get answers is to ask questions, this process is called interviewing. The single most important thing to do when interviewing anyone is to listen carefully. A good journalist must learn how to study his subject and source. Journalist must know how to listen carefully and pick up if the interviewee left out any crucial facts, contradicts him or herself, or mentions newsworthy.
The term ‘fourth estate’ is used today to refer to the mass media as a powerful watchdog in liberal democracy, revealing abuses of state authority and defending the democratic rights of citizens. The notion that the press is a great instrument of liberty providing a check on the abuse of government power any power – is a central part of any political culture. I agree that even though journalists are said to have a freedom of expression or speech, they still have to have public responsibilities.
Honesty is another aspect which is very significant. Journalists should observe the
common standards of decency and stand accountable to the public for the honesty and
accuracy of their news reports. A journalist should not modify or influence any
information that comes into their hands. They could do so by using suggestive words and
withholding necessary information. Many a time journalists try to create a hype or to
make their paper sell like hotcakes by compromising honesty. Without journalism, without a steady, reliable flow of independent information without which the creation, care and continuation of a public opinion would not be possible self government would disappear. Journalism and self government will rise or fall together.
I am therefore appealing again to our respectful journalists to rise up to the challenge of protecting our human values and to inform our media diligently. Yet, it is true as humans, we are affiliated to different groups, be it political, tribe or religion but the hard fact is we should be tolerant and accept and intermingle for a better and peaceful Mama Salone and, a progressive generation and progeny. Again patriotism, transparency and accountability begin with our journalists. As a journalist you are under scrutiny of a microscopic eye of skepticism, patriotism or bias as well as your names. But alas! Why should you be intimidated anyway? Why should we be allowed to be fooled or misled or misguided? We have seen it all, and we are going to see it again and again, and that is why as journalists, we should combine our experiences of the past and present, and project a good future for mama Salone.
We can make a difference but let’s cease fire between fellow journalists by avoiding insults, being provocative, wicked and deceitful; this can only be possible if we choose to work diligently with an independent mind. Let us do our work for beauty, and we all know that “Beauty is in the hands of the Beholder” the beauty of mama Salone is in our hands as Sierra Leoneans, let us all glorify that beauty, by honesty, love and peace.
By Dr. Augustine A. Kamara, Virginia, USA
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