IMC Schools Media Practitioners on Responsible Election Reporting

As it Launches Two Documents…

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Independent Media Commission (IMC), in collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and with funding from the European Union, has launched the IMC Elections Coverage and Reporting Regulations as well as the Print and Electronic Media Regulations on the 27th March, 2023 at the Radisson Blu Conference Centre on Aberdeen in Freetown.

In attendance were media practitioners from various print and electronic media houses in Freetown, representatives from International IDEA and officials of the IMC.

Welcoming participants during the programme was Commissioner Salifu Suma, of the Independent Media Commissioner who informed all present that that there is the need to upgrade the existing regulations binding election reporting which he said are now obsolete adding that with funding from the BBC Media consultations were held countrywide with all relevant stakeholders which finally culminated in the drafting and finalization of the two documents which the Commission will embark on popularizing countrywide.

Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, Dr. Victor Massaquoi, informed participants that  the regulations which are to be launched emanated from extensive collaboration with other stakeholders in the media landscape going further to reveal that after the launch  then the popularization of the Regulations will be done countrywide.

A representative from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Tawanda Chimhini, stated that theirs is an inter-governmental entity that signed a memorandum of understanding with the Independent Media Commission geared towards enhancing the capacity of the media in terms of highlighting the roles journalists must play and the challenges they would grapple with in elections coverage and reporting.

He furthered that it has been noticed that there is a lack of clarity with regards the roles the media should play in elections coverage and reporting. According to him, the media is sometimes politically insensitive maintaining that most times the Government and other relevant stakeholders fail to provide timely assistance to the media maintaining that it is necessary for awareness to be raised on how media practitioners should report election related issues.

Tawanda disclosed how his organization had replicated such partnerships with media regulatory institutions in other countries in Africa all geared towards responsible reportage in election periods further maintaining that it will not only help to put media practitioners on their toes but at vantage positions to give accurate elections reportage before, during and after elections.

Representatives of NEW, IRN, ECSL and the Guild of Editors also made similar calls for institutional independence, fair, transparent and responsible reporting in their statements.

Delivering the keynote address was the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray. The Minister underscored how President Julius Maada Bio is very passionate about freeing up the media space citing the repeal of Part V of the Criminal Libel Law, how Government has increased the subvention given to SLAJ adding that Sierra Leone is the 5th member of the Media Coalition maintaining that the greatest challenge to the media is poverty and how to address that.

He espoused that, the Government of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio is committed to expanding the media space but cautioned that this should not be used as an excuse to promote reckless journalism.

“The media is not a platform to promote tribal and divisive messages, IMC and SLAJ must ensure a conducive media environment that promotes cohesion and factual dissemination of information to the public,” the Minister said and went on to launch the two documents.

Various presentations were made by different facilitators on the dos and don’ts as well as how media practitioners should go about election reporting which was then followed by a question and answer session.


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