Challenges facing the information sector to be dealt with next year

ONE of the main achievements of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s Sixth Phase Government has been to open doors of press freedom and set free newspapers such as Tanzania Daima and Mwanahalisi that were banned during the previous regime for criticising the government’s performance.

The Government has vowed to eliminate all major challenges facing the media industry including meagre salary payments, high printing costs, oppressive media laws, to mention only a few.

The Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye expressed his desire to solve those setbacks when he was closing the first ever conference on development of Tanzania’s information sector.

The conference was held at Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre (JNICC) on 17 December, this year. It was attended by more than 600 journalists, public relations practitioners and communication specialists.

The Minister, flanked by his Permanent Secretary, Dr Jim Yonazi, assured that early next year his Ministry would submit to the Parliament several oppressive media laws for rectification to strengthen free flow of information. He also presumed that the media and broadcasting laws which are separate would be unified to serve a common goal.

“The Ministry would also review employment conditions in media houses to promote their standards,” he said, adding that he would push for expedited payment of all outstanding debts totalling 18bn/- owed by the media houses mainly through advertisements.

The Director General of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation(TBC) Dr Ayoub Rioba cautioned the media against using all the write ups they find in the digital media platform, saying the platform was a dumping ground of all kinds of stories, good and bad.

He emphasised on revamping “investigative journalism “ which in the past was used to uncover individuals in high positions involved in grand corruption and theft of public funds and property.

A clear mention of reporters who spearheaded investigative journalism include Lucas Liganga, Charles Kizigha, Salome Kitomari, Stanley Katabalo, Ernest Ambali, John Rutaisingwa and James Mwakisyala.

The Executive Director of TAMWA, Dr Rose Reuben said the country presently lacked competent media practitioners and this has affected the content of newspapers and electronic media.

Many journalists graduate at the universities and training colleges but they were incompetent when in the news rooms, she lamented.

Dr Dotto Paul Kuhanga of the University of Dar es Salaam said a survey had established that the majority of media houses lacked effective management, labour and human resource policies, financial plans and training programmes. As a result their professional ethics and media viability were questionable.

An official of UNDP Tanzania, Usia Nkoma urged the local media to join hands with UNDP to create awareness and set an agenda against “early girl’s marriages” adding that Tanzania was among eleven countries in the world leading in early girl’s marriage. Out of 10 girls, three are married even before they reach the adolescent age of 18.

There was a call to revive the defunct Tanzania Journalists’ Association (TAJA) which spearheaded professional development. Communication and PR officers were commended for initiating the Public Religion Relations Society of Tanzania (PRST) and the Tanzania Association of Government Communication Officers( TAGCO) which were active in career practice.

Ms Pili Mtambalike of the Media Council of Tanzania said the media should promote constructive journalism which focused on solution and positivity instead of highlighting all the time problems, negativity and conflicts. The Government Spokesman, Mr Gerson Msigwa and the Chairman of the Tanzania Editors Forum, Mr Deodatus Balile also provided excellent ideas on revamping the information sector.

Dr Yonazi assured that his Ministry understood the need to provide good working conditions for journalists and beginning next year new media employment benefits would be introduced.

The conference was well moderated by Innocent Mungy who heads the Communication department in the Ministry.

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