A Sierra Leonean journalist said the country’s media are relatively free compared to some other West African countries.
But, Murtala Mohamed Kamara, publisher of the weekly Salone Jamboree, an arts and entertainment newspaper, said there are still some journalists who write one-sided stories as well as newspapers run by politicians.
As Sierra Leone prepares for a presidential election in November, Kamara expressed hope President Ernest Bai Koroma would make good on his promise to pass a Freedom of Information Act to ensure accountability in the fight against corruption.
In a VOA interview, Kamara described publishing an art and entertainment newspaper in Sierra Leone.
“We have over 50 registered newspapers in Sierra Leone, but we are perhaps the only newspaper promoting the arts and entertainment. We have been doing this for the last three years. It was born out of a passion to showcase the rich, untapped entertainment industry in Sierra Leone, and so we decided, as media professionals, to see how best we will be able to create a platform for our young talents, to showcase our music, showcase our culture, and fashion,” he said.
Kamara said, despite Sierra Leone’s high illiteracy rate, Salone Jamboree is making headway in reaching younger readers.
He said Sierra Leone enjoys a relatively free media compared to some countries such as The Gambia and Nigeria.
But, Kamara said Sierra Leonean journalists are still pressing for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act.
“It is your right; you request information and then you get it. But, we are not there yet. It has been challenging. Our president, [Ernest Bai Koroma] during his inauguration five years ago, made a promise that he will make the Freedom of Information a priority. It has been five years and we are heading to the polls this year, and it has not been done,” Kamara said.
He said, although professionalism is taking root among Sierra Leone’s journalists, there are still some who need to improve their art.
“We still have journalists that take sides. We still have newspapers that are being funded and run by politicians. They operate some these newspapers in disguise. They have their agenda. So, we have some of our colleagues that take sides, but we still have independent journalists that we can count on,” Kamara said.