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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid