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SLAJ urges media practitioners as 18th biennial conference ends

SLAJ urges media practitioners as 18th biennial conference ends

Kenema: The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists over the weekend ended 18th Biennial Conference in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone, the first in over 5 years.  The 2-day conference brought together over 400 journalists from across the country, the largest ever single gathering of journalists in the history of the Association. The conduct of elections for Regional and National Executives, as well as for representatives to the Independent Media Commission climaxed the conference.

With the theme, THE MEDIA AND THE 2012 ELECTIONS, the conference urged media practitioners to uphold the tenets of the profession especially as we approach presidential, legislative and local council elections next year. Panelists, themselves journalists, urged their colleagues to properly goad the country’s electoral process by setting aside partisanship and other bias if only to make and not break the country. They urged newspaper publishers and editors, as well as community and commercial radio station managers, to be responsive to the needs of the masses and be responsible in the practice of the profession.

It was agreed that a 15-member committee be formed to draw up a media strategy for the elections so as to ensure professionalism.

The scope and mandate of the Independent Media Commission and the changing landscape of the Sierra Leone media was also discussed with a view to ensuring professional practice of journalism while sustaining the peace and stability of the country.

The President of SLAJ, Umaru Fofana called on all journalists to unite in their own interest and in the interest of the Association and stop the unnecessary bickering. He reiterated his call for Government to repeal the 45-year-old criminal and seditious libel law which he said had no place in a civilized society.

While urging journalists to keep the country together even if performing their role and responsibility freely and fairly, Deputy Minister of Information, Sheka Tarawally said Government was still committed to repealing Criminal and Seditious Libel Law by 2012, a campaign SLAJ has championed for decades.

While a full Biennial Report is being worked on, the conference resolved among other things that all previous Resolutions adopted at the association’s Annual General Meetings and Biennial Conferences be nullified and the constitution be comprehensively reviewed and modernized by a 7-member committee. This should take into consideration, inter alia, the incorporation of all three Regional Chairmen of SLAJ into the National Executive as Ex Officio Members. The SLAJ Disciplinary Committee was also scrapped to be replaced with a National Council of Elders that will be empowered to do peer review and settle internal disputes.

Meanwhile the following people were (re)elected to the National Executive: Umaru Fofana (President), Sheikh Mustapha Bawoh (Vice President), Ismael Koroma (National Secretary General), Miss Olabisi Olu Garrick (National Assistant Secretary General), Ms Mariama Sesay (Financial Secretary), Ms Zainab Joaque (Organising Secretary) and Sayoh Kamara (Public Affairs Secretary).

Signed Ismael Koroma, National Secretary General

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