By Amin Kef (Ranger)
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), delivered a comprehensive New Year message outlining the association’s achievements and confronting challenges throughout the past year.
Nasralla initiated the address with a moment of remembrance for departed colleagues, emphasizing their enduring impact within the SLAJ community. Reflecting on the preceding year, he celebrated the successes amid mounting challenges. Notably, SLAJ focused on enabling citizens’ active participation in elections by disseminating accurate information and public education through platforms like iVerify and the SLAJ-NDI SuperNewsRooms. Despite the positive reception, funding for these platforms ceased in December 2023, but commitments from organizations like the UNDP and NDI aim to sustain these efforts in 2024.
Furthermore, Nasralla underscored SLAJ’s milestones, including the launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto and the Gender Equality and Equity Policy for Sierra Leone’s media. The association also underwent an internal review by the Anti-Corruption Commission, aiming to bolster transparency and accountability to both members and the public.
While acknowledging SLAJ’s support for various causes and its forged partnerships in 2023, Nasralla candidly addressed persistent challenges. These encompass journalists’ welfare concerns, escalating production costs affecting print media, and safety issues, particularly in the online sphere.
Addressing concerns of unfair treatment and harassment within media institutions, Nasralla stressed the importance of engaging with institution heads to promptly resolve these issues. He also highlighted recent instances of disinformation targeting journalists, advocating for a secure environment for journalists to carry out their work without fear.
Peering into the future, Nasralla emphasized SLAJ’s commitment to adapt to the evolving journalistic landscape, advocating for sustainable business models, and urging journalists to uphold accountability while promoting national unity
Concluding on an optimistic note, Nasralla expressed hope for a prosperous 2024 for SLAJ and its members. He also announced plans for the inaugural SLAJ National Media Awards in March 2024, acknowledging and recognizing the crucial support of the private sector in sustaining Sierra Leone’s media.
In related news, Nasralla was named among the Ten Most Outstanding Sierra Leoneans for 2021 by Chozen Generation Sierra Leone, lauded for his pivotal role in advocating for the removal of obsolete legislation and fostering greater freedom of speech within the country.
The awards, encompassing professionals from diverse fields, aim to commend Sierra Leoneans contributing positively to their communities and the nation. Nasralla dedicated the award to past SLAJ leaders, stakeholders, and journalists who faced challenges under restrictive laws, signifying the importance of progress and unity within the nation.