The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation Rebellion: Lessons Learnt
The recent strike action of workers of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), appalling conditions of service tells a lot about the media in this country. The strike unmasked a lot of anomalies in that important media institution.
From the protest and the grievances catalogued by the workers, I learnt that many media practitioners in this nation are not treated with the seriousness they deserve by virtue of the significant role they are playing in the political, social and economic development of Sierra Leone.
All this while, most SLBC workers have been suffering silently from meager salaries paid very late and they have been victims of constant suppression, molestation and demoralization from some of their superiors. The ugly situation is not limited to the SLBC, but is prevalent in many media houses in the country, with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), and the Independent Media Commission (IMC), doing little to rescue journalists from the pitiable conditions of service under which they practice the noble profession.
Many media houses in Sierra Leone have no laid down and documented conditions of service for media practitioners, many of whom work without salaries, and even those on salary are poorly and irregularly paid. This ugly trend has been adversely affecting the practice of journalism in the country as many journalists have resorted to very unethical and unprofessional conduct in their desperation to survive the system.
So, it should not be a surprise to behold journalists scrambling for food during workshops and harassing top officials for money. The high level of praise singing and blackmailing that now characterize the profession can be largely attributed to the dismal conditions of service under which journalists operate. Many journalists no longer pursue news items that are of relevance to public interest but, instead, concentrate on finger-licking stories.
It is my humble opinion that until proper conditions of service are negotiated for journalists by concerned authorities, the profession will continue to be polluted and the sit down strikes will continue.
By Joseph Milton Lebbie
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