From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
IMC Making Nonsense of Itself!
By Abdul Karim (Fonti) Kabia
Apr 12, 2011, 17:12

My attention has been drawn to a recent press release issued out by the Independent Media Commission (IMC) that attempted to slur my hard won reputation of being one of the very few qualified and professional journalists in Sierra Leone.

I consider the act of responding to, and setting the records straight on matters that hinge on my credibility as a responsible media practitioner, as a sacred responsibility, thus the rationale for reacting to the press release on the ‘findings’ of the IMC on the matter of the presidential underwear brouhaha.

This piece will specifically respond to two sentences in the press release, which were wickedly inserted to drag the name of the youngest newspaper editor in Africa, if not the whole world, into disrepute.

The aforesaid sentences in the IMC Press Release read thus: “The Editor is hereby warned to practice journalism within the provisions of the IMC Act and Media Code of Practice”.

“The Publisher and Editor of Awareness Times Newspaper are encouraged to take advantage of media training programs to update their knowledge and skills in the practice of journalism.” 

To start with, the said IMC Press Release was drafted in an unprecedented manner that glaringly displayed the hatred being nursed by certain individuals of the Commission against the Awareness Times Newspaper.

I consider the vicious and mysterious insertion of my name (Editor Awareness Times) in the IMC Press Release as the most unfair character assassination maneuver that has ever been launched against me. The IMC has no justification to mention me in a press release of a matter in which I was never summoned. The Commission might want to argue that the Editor bears the responsibility for whatever is published in his newspaper. But if this is the argument, why did the IMC fail to summon me as the editor to defend my newspaper in the matter under review. It is clearly and totally unfair to cast aspersion on my professionalism when the fact remains that the IMC, during its deliberations on the matter, never gave me the opportunity to defend my publication.

In my view, the warning of the IMC, stating that “The Editor is hereby warned to practice journalism within the provisions of the IMC Act and Media Code of Practice”, is the most absurd sentence that has ever emanated from the IMC. In all my five years of practice as a journalist in Sierra Leone, with three of those years as an Editor, I have never been found wanton for a single unethical publication. I have faced the IMC Complaints Committee on three instances, and adequately defended three publications in both my capacity as a Columnist and Editor for Awareness Times Newspaper. My first appearance was a complaint by former Mayor Winstanley Bankole Johnson against Awareness Times. The IMC was left with no option other than to throw that matter out of the IMC after my vigorous defence. A certain organization that took the Awareness Times to the IMC over an article with regards to a fake first Lady at Yams Farm was forced to withdraw its complaints following my justification that the article was not only accurate but also of human interest. Mayor Herbert George Williams’ complaint against me to the IMC, over an article I authored titled “City Police or City Thugs”, was also robustly defended. So, what an ironically assertion warning me to practice journalism within the ambit of the law!

Also, the IMC gave me a national award as the country’s Best Newspaper Columnist less than two months ago. It was therefore illogical for this same IMC to now turn around and say the same journalist who they acknowledged as a professional journalist just two months ago, is not practicing within the ambit of the IMC Act and Media Code of Practice.

“The Publisher and Editor of Awareness Times Newspaper are encouraged to take advantage of media training programs to update their knowledge and skills in the practice of journalism,” the IMC Press Release Reads.

Let me assure the IMC that I will not succumb to the stigma the aforementioned assertion intends to subject me to. The IMC seems to be ignorant of the fact that I am a fresh graduate from the reputable world journalism institution known as London School of Journalism (LSJ). I graduated in June 2010 with a Distinction in Journalism and News Writing, and therefore consider myself updated with modern journalism skills. I totally agree that journalists must take advantage of media training programs to update their knowledge and skills in the practice of journalism, which is why I want to recommend here, with no disrespect meant, that certain IMC Commissioners need to make use of the aforementioned counsel, and do away with their archaic journalism believes. IMC must desist from creating the impression that upcoming journalists know nothing about the media profession.

I therefore urge the IMC to immediately review its press release with an unreserved apology to me. Posterity will never be kind to senior journalists in the IMC if they refuse to correct the malicious assertion against my person. I will not allow myself to be scapegoatised by the IMC for the latter’s ineptness to sanction and punish Mohamed (One Drop) Sankoh, who originally authored the article that sparked the reaction from my Publisher, Dr. Sylvia Blyden.

A word for the wise……



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