By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Independent Media Commission organized one day training for Print and Electronic Media Journalists on the 15th June, 2023 geared towards the popularization of the Independent Media Commission Elections Coverage and Reporting/Print and Electronic Media Regulations 2022. The training took place at the Right to Access Information Office on Kroo Town Road in Freetown.
According to the moderator of the programme, it is part of their project ‘’Expanding the Democratic Space in Sierra Leone- Media Capacity Enhancement to Promote Peaceful Elections, Women’s Participation, Public Interest and Conflict Mitigation’s in Sierra Leone”.
Giving the welcome remarks, the Independent Media Commission Chairman, Dr.Victor Massaquoi, intimated that they are grateful for the collaboration with the Media and how, they are also happy about the compliance level of majority of the Media houses in relation to the Commission’s activities.
He maintained that, even the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone commended the Media for the way they have been disseminating information. ‘’You are ordinary people, but you are doing an extra-ordinary work,’’ he commended.
The Chairman noted that Journalists must ensure to maintain the peace and stability of the country and how they should not be partisan, and how they must be balanced in their reporting.
He advised them to continue to adhere to rules and regulations of the IMC more especially at this crucial stage of the electioneering period. According to him, misinformation or disinformation can cause chaos in the country.
One of the Commissioners of IMC, Emmanuel Turay, in his presentation stated that the Independent Media Commission Elections Coverage and Reporting Regulations 2022 contain guidelines for media practitioners and institutions regarding their work during elections.
He furthered that, the regulations were developed in accordance with provisions of the Independent Media Commission Act 2020. According to him, the Regulations replaced the provisions on elections coverage in the IMC Code of Practice, 2007.
Another Commissioner of the IMC, JT Lebbie, noted that, Media Institutions should not censor or edit materials submitted by political parties or their agents, stating how, proper editorial judgment should be exercised in favor of good taste and respect for public safety, security and morality.
‘’A publication or broadcast can be refused if materials are hateful, ethnically offensive and likely to provide public disorder or threaten the security of the state. Where publication or broadcast of such materials is refused, the concerned political party or its agent should be given an opportunity to modify the material in order to conform to acceptable standards.’’
The event was climaxed with plenary discussions, and a question and answer session.