Journalists Abandon Government Press Briefing in Sierra Leone
As a way of protecting their integrity, some media practitioners that were wont to attending the weekly Government press briefing from the time Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo was Minister of Information and Communications have vowed never to attend the news briefing for what they described as ‘complete humilation and discrimination’ by the current authorities at the helm of that Ministry.
It could be recalled that in the past, the weekly Government press briefing was not only attended by journalists but also by members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s), students and members of the public that could use the forum as an opportunity to vent out their angers.
But many journalists have observed with utter dismay that the current Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Cornelous Deveaux, is restricting certain pressmen who had been attending the press briefing prior to his appointent of the Deputy Minister.
Prior to his appointment, the Deputy Minister was Editor of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) mouthpiece – We Yone Newspaper.
Reports are that very recently, a gentleman from a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) who trying to hammer home a very vital point was not only embarassed by Mr. Deveaux but also did not allow him to proffer any solution.
The Deputy Miniser is also reported to have embarrassed journalists without identity cards by asking them out of the conference room of the Ministry.
When asked why journalists are restricted this time from attending the weekly Government press briefing, Mr. Deveaux retorted that upon assuming office, he was informed by his predecessor that any media house was represented by at least two journaists but most of them would not publish anything on the press briefing.
The Deputy Minister said it is against the backdrop of what he learned from his predecessor that he decided to restructure the process to ensure that only targetted journalists with ID cards would be accommodated.
But many journalists have argued that even the initiator of the weekly Government press briefing, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, never prevented any journalists or anybody from the public from attending the news briefing despite more sumptuous food and drinks were shared among attendees.
A journalist that asked for anonymity asserted that Mr. Deveaux has adopted the new system for lack of adequate funding by Government.
“If that is the case, I am pleading to the Government to allocate more budget to the Information Ministry so that the Deputy Minister will stop discriminating against journalists and members of the public that would be intrested in attending the press briefing,” said the anonymous journalist.
By Abdulai M. Kamara
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