Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Superficial research and improper verification of facts in the daily news menu indicate that truth has become a victim of such deficiencies in several African media, Tanzania’s Minister of Information, Youth, Sports and Culture Emmanuel Nchimbi said here Thursday.
Mr. Nchimbi was speaking at the official launch of ‘Leadership Guiding Principles for African Media Owners and Managers’, an outcome of the African Media Leaders' Forum that was held 10-11 November 2011 in Tunis, Tunisia.
“These guidelines address the missing link in the media operations as they target leadership and excellence,” he said, noting that African media owners had worked out the guidelines to transform not just the society but themselves in order to play the role of true partners with the state.
“Africa is not condemned to be a recipient of new ideas from other continents, be it in governance or media management. Compliance to self-generated codes of conduct is likely to be high compared to those imposed from above,” Nchimbi pointed out.
He lauded owners and managers of Africa’s media industries for working out and endorsing the set of principles in order to develop ethical and sustainable media.
“Experience has shown that the conduct of media owners and managers has an impact on the performance of the media they run,” the minister added.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Africa Media Initiative (AMI), Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, has said the leadership and guiding principles launched Thursday are not legally binding.
“There is a reason to that. It is very simple. At the end of the day the judge is always the audience who listen, read and watch what the media put out. By adopting these principles we have sent out a signal to the audience to see that we are living up to them through improvement of the standards within the news organisations,” Ba said.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, AMI was launched in May 2008 as a project designed to stimulate economic development and improve governance by strengthening an independent, pluralistic media across Africa.
Speaking on behalf of African media owners, Reginald Mengi, who chairs the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT), said the leadership code arose out of a generally-felt need across the continent to put in place ethics for owners and managers of the media and to ensure that whatever they deliver is ethical.
“Opinion leaders in Africa admit that the continent faces an ethics crisis … and media houses are not ethically in order,” Mengi said.
The MOAT chair, who owns three TV stations, two radio stations and publishes several dailies and weeklies in Dar es Salaam, added: “As media owners attempt to play advocacy role in promoting the culture of transparency, good governance and accountability, they need support from other sectors of society to address ethical issues related to the use and abuse of the internet and social media.
“Our continent is undergoing improvement in many areas including democratic transformation which require the media to ensure professionalism and accountability in serving public interest, while they maintain their own transparency and trust. We must make the African media creditable and reliable.”
Critics of the Tanzanian media say despite the broadened space of the media in the country, there is a paucity of serious people working in the media.
"We need to address the issue of quality of our media and the capacity of that media to promote the common good. In a way, we have to redefine the role of the media for the common good," said veteran journalist and publisher Jenerali Ulimwengu. "The quality of trained journalists is still lacking."
-0- PANA AR/SEG 3May2012