MFWA: JOURNALISM ETHICS:
Increasing Incidents of Unprofessional Media Conduct Worrying
Press Release issued by MFWA in Accra on April 28th 2015
Cases of unprofessional media conduct and consequent sanctions by the judiciary or media regulatory bodies have been on the rise in a number of West Africa countries in recent times.
The situation is particularly worrying as it has a great potential to roll back the gains made in press freedom over the years, erode public confidence in the media, and thus, negatively impact on the media’s capacity to effectively play their watchdog role.
While unprofessionalism remains a major challenge to media development throughout West Africa, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is particularly concerned about trends in Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.
In the case of Sierra Leone for example, as many as 15 media organisations have been found guilty of professional infractions and sanctioned by the country’s media regulatory body, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), within the last 14 weeks of this year. Thirteen newspapers – The Torchlight, The Informant, Standard Times, Metro, Independent Observer, Prime Time, Democrat, African Youth Voices (AYV), Arigbo, Owl, News Watch, Champion and Nation Business and Finance – and two radio stations, Radio New Song and Radio Bankasoka, have been fined various sums for breaching provisions in the IMC Code of Practice.
The Independent Observer and Torchlight newspapers have been fined twice already this year. In February, the Independent Observer newspaper was suspended for failing to pay an IMC fine before being fined again for breaching the Indecency and Pornographic Materials principle of the IMC Code of Practice. Three other newspapers – Nation, Exclusive and All-Met Business Journal – have also been formally warned by the IMC following professional lapses.
The situation has prompted Sierra Leonean authorities, including the country’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma; and Chairman of the IMC, Ambassador Allieu Kanu, to make several appeals to the media, urging professional conduct in reporting. Despite the appeals and sanctions, frequent ethical violations persist.
While the MFWA continues to fight for media rights and freedom of expression in West Africa, the organisation also urges journalists, media owners, professional associations and academic institutions to prioritise professionalism. We also urge governments to support media professional development through effective frameworks and resource allocation as espoused by the ECOWAS Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy.
See more at: www.mfwa.org/opportunity.php?article_ID=492
The MFWA is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Accra. It was founded in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and of expression.
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