Mixed reactions greet recruitment of celebrities in radio shows

  • New approach in TZ that puts professionalism in limbo
  • Gurus open up, call for training on media basics
  • Scores  say it’s okay, time to get new taste
  •  Some see high chance for distortion, but…

MEDIA gurus have suggested for a need of long-term training for celebrities and other non-trained media personnel, who are being featured in various programmes in radio and television stations.

This comes following a current-trending wave that has seen a number of famous celebrities doing journalistic jobs in various media houses without any academic backgrounds in journalism or media related courses.

Recruitment of celebrities in radio shows is driven by motives of media owners to generate more income through programmes that are being aired during prime hours.

Media owners believe that since the celebrities have a huge number of followers and supporters through their social media platforms, then it will be easy for the radio station to get more audience through the appearance of their beloved superstar.

A cross section of media gurus who spoke to the ‘Daily News’ expressed mixed feelings on the matter with the majority of them calling for a mechanism that will provide a platform for the celebrities to undertake training on media ethics and various regulations.

However, some of the experts expressed concern, saying using the non-professionals in the industry would harm the profession, going forward.

Chairperson of Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) Deodatus Balile said using celebrities in media houses is a new approach in Tanzania; however, other countries are doing it already.

“It’s true that the media is now deviating from the norms and it is a concern of stakeholders however, Tanzania is not the first country to experience this trend, it is already being done even in developed nations,” he said.

Elaborating, he said, celebrities who are running media programmes abroad are well educated in specific areas of professions compared to some who are making appearances in our local stations.

But Mr Balile suggests that, if there is a need to retain them in the media houses, then it’s crucial for them to be trained and get a professional know-how for the sake of protecting, maintaining and extending the journalism as a profession.

He said, training the celebrities would shape further media and put together education information and entertainment aspects in one plate.

His views were in line with recommendations by media researcher and journalism trainer at the University of Dar es Salaam’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (UDSM-SJMC) Abdallah Katunzi, who however, said currently there is no legal stand that controls the education level of journalists.

This is due to the fact that the Media Services Act (MSA) of 2016 that was suspended is in various processes of amendments. The bill was tabled to the National Assembly for the first reading on February 10 this year.

When it comes to effect, the Act   through  regulation  17 of the Media Service Regulations, indicates that a person practising journalism must be a holder of diploma, degree or higher diploma in journalism or any other related media studies from the recognised institution offering journalism or media studies.

Mr Katunzi suggested for a room to retain the celebs in media houses through training that will provide them with understandings on media ethics and professional conduct.

“We can go the extra mile by training these celebrities on media basics, this is based on the fact that there are some of them who have Bachelor degrees in other professions,” he urged.

Adding; “The training should also be extended to other radio presenters in upcountry regions as most of them have no academic background in journalism and media studies”.

More so, he emphasised on the need of students taking journalism and media studies courses to be creative for them to be competent enough and meet the expectations of media owners to complement their studies.

Commenting on the matter recently during a television programme during the World Press Freedom Day Director General of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) Dr Ayub Rioba said there is no problem with celebrities working as journalists only if they meet requirements.

“Stakeholders and colleges were supposed to prepare a curriculum that would accommodate this new generation in the media industry, but it’s not late yet, we can do that, if possible,” he said.

His views were in line with the observation by Mr Balile, who earlier called for a need of curriculum review that will suit the market demand for them to have improved qualities for employment and other opportunities upon accomplishment of their studies.

Speaking, the Director of Mwanza based Radio Saut FM, who also lectures at the St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) Doto Bulendu said it is unacceptable for media houses to use non-professionals as broadcasters.

“It a mistake to make these people run serious programmes like newspaper analysis because there is a high chance for distortion of the message that the writer intended to deliver to the public,” he said.

Mr Bulendu, who has worked with international media, noted further that it’s crucial for media houses to have people who are well trained and educated in journalism as a profession.

For her part, famous former broadcaster Betty Mkwasa urges that journalism as a profession, needs to be given due attention based on the crucial roles it is playing in society.

“By any chance, we should not allow those who are not professionals to breach the norms that guide the media and broadcasting industry,” she said.

To address that, Ms Mkwasa called for the dedicated efforts to hasten the process of putting to affect the MSA 2016 for the sake to protect the profession.

Without that, she warned that it will reach a time where the majority of media houses will be furnished by celebrities with no knowledge in media and journalism at large.

One of the media owners said recently that it’s high time for radio audiences to get a new taste instead of hearing the same voices all the time in all media outlets.

“It’s now time for radio audiences to get a new taste, giving opportunities to the new generation, we can’t be having the same voices everywhere, as I have been saying, I will keep on giving opportunities to new faces every time,” he said on a social media platform.

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