In Covid-19 Fight… Sierra Leone Government Neglects The Media
In modern day world, the media is considered an integral aspect to the development of societies.
It importance cannot be overemphasized as it possesses the power to make or break everything it lays hands on.
However, the media in the Sierra Leonean context particularly under the current Sierra Leone Peoples Party led government seems to be less considered in terms its importance and the role it plays towards the development of the nation.
Apart from the existence of the age-old draconian Seditious Libel Law which continues to limit the free work of the media in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leonean politicians spanning from successive governments to the current dispensation, who many believe, has become worse, have continued to discriminate against the media particularly those they think are critical of their governments.
Sierra Leonean journalists especially those deemed to be critical, have continued to be subjected to state sanctioned brutality, harassment and the likes.
Despite the pivotal role the media has been and continues to be playing towards national development, the government still considers the media less-important.
This is evident in the current fight against COVID-19 that continues to ravage the country and the world over in which journalists particularly those in the print media and those critical of government have been flagrantly neglected by the government.
Starting from the three (3) National Lockdown to the current fourteen (14) days nationwide curfew and inter-district movements restriction, the Sierra Leone Government has displayed flagrant biasness in its handling of the media. Only few pro-government electronics and print media personnel were given passes to cover the lockdown while the bulk of the media practitioners are left confined in their homes denying them any opportunity to report events that unfolded during the lockdown.
As if that was not enough, the government’s neglect for the media in Sierra Leone is once again exhibited in the current nationwide curfew and the inter-districts movements restriction as only few pro-government print and electronic media houses are given passes to carry out their work unhindered while the majority of the media landscape particularly those deemed critical are now left to work under extreme pressure.
It should be noted that, the media all over the world, always work late hours. This is because they gather the news during the day and put it together during the night.
For those in the print, the production of newspapers only takes place during the night and hence, the current curfew means that their work will be badly affected.
Despite several pleas from the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), for government to consider giving every media house at least a pass, the government blatantly gave deaf ears and only gave few passes to SLAJ for distribution to the well over 100 media houses in Freetown.
In my opinion, the media practitioners especially key workers including editors, graphic designers, production managers, station managers and printers should have been considered as essential workers whose movements should not have been restricted because of the role they play in the fight against the corona virus.
Sadly, that seems not to be the case as the government’s neglect for journalists and the media continues to rein supreme.
By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara
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