News / Africa

Challenges Face Journalists Covering Events in Sierra Leone

Emeric Roy Coker, journalist for Universal Radio, October 2012 (Nine de Vries/VOA).Emeric Roy Coker, journalist for Universal Radio, October 2012 (Nine de Vries/VOA).
x
Emeric Roy Coker, journalist for Universal Radio, October 2012 (Nine de Vries/VOA).
Emeric Roy Coker, journalist for Universal Radio, October 2012 (Nine de Vries/VOA).
Many journalists across Africa face challenges such as low pay and lack of resources.  Sierra Leone will soon be holding presidential and parliamentary elections. That may increase reporting challenges there for journalists.

Emeric Roy Coker, a host and journalist for Universal Radio in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, says journalists encounter many barriers especially when it comes to reporting on taboo issues.

Coker says he did some coverage earlier this year on the push for gay rights and faced anonymous threats through texts and phone messages. "That is a big issue in Sierra Leone, some believe our culture, it is not part of that, that is Western practice, so we should not be giving voice for those practicing same-sex rights," he said.

Coker says he is passionate about reporting on human rights issues, though.  And with an election set for November 17, Coker says he will cover the issue of gay rights again. 

But he also has concerns about being a direct target for violence. "Journalists during last elections were beaten, lost their gadgets, up until now they have not been refunded," Coker stated.

Coker adds journalists are constantly up against obstacles including bribes to report stories a certain way. He says he hasn't been directly approached but many of his fellow journalists have.  And he believes it could get worse during the elections.

If you're a female journalist in Sierra Leone it's even more challenging.

Martha Kargbo works as a producer, reporter and presenter for Premier Tok Radio, also in Freetown.

She says she has faced similar situations like Coker when tackling human rights issues.

And because she is a woman, people tend to question her more. "There is no freedom of information act here, the press is still harassed," Kargbo explained. "Politicians are still trying to buy the press, corrupt them so those who are refusing, are having challenges, they are being refused interviews, there's security threats.  It's very difficult to work in a country like Sierra Leone."

She also has concerns about her safety during the upcoming election. "I'm not nervous but I'm worried.  I work till 9, 10, 11 p.m.,  so before leaving the office, I make sure I look around the office so that there's no threats, and I will not go direct to my home, I will stop from point to point so that I make sure someone is not chasing me," said Kargbo. "Or looking where I'm going."

The issue of safety for journalists is something the Independent Media Commission of Sierra Leone, or IMC, is fully aware of.  The organization monitors and regulates media.

Rod Mac Johnson is the chairman and says the organization has already spoken to police about journalists being targeted.

"We tell police that if journalists cross the red line, they should not be beaten or assaulted, but to document a report and send it to IMC," he said. "We also tell journalists you should know your limits, do not put yourself in danger, when you're doing your report, do not cross a marking, you should listen to what police are saying."

The IMC commission has also been working with community radio stations to ensure they do not accept one-sided reports.

"So that if anyone comes in, say for instance a political party, who wants to bulldoze his way in to their programs, they have a format that they will show them and say sorry, but this is the format we use to operate our radio stations," added Johnson.

As for journalists like Emerick Coker, he just hopes things will go smoothly this November so he can broadcast the information that the public needs to know.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: joseph from: taipei
October 26, 2012 8:38 AM
i think there are alot more issues to talk about in sierra leone ..right now , but i definitly dont think gay issues are one of them.specially the country just coming out of war ..there are more pressing issues .to deal with.but gay issues is not one of them,

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid