News / Africa

Sierra Leone Starts New Method of Monitoring Radio Stations

Communications student Mohamed Alpha Ba, 21, poses for a picture in the studio of the radio station he volunteers with, at Sierra Leone's prestigious Fourah Bay College in the capital Freetown, November 2012.
Communications student Mohamed Alpha Ba, 21, poses for a picture in the studio of the radio station he volunteers with, at Sierra Leone's prestigious Fourah Bay College in the capital Freetown, November 2012.
A new system to monitor media outlets has been implemented in Sierra Leone. While some say this will help improve reporting in the country, others worry it may censor journalists.
 
Like many reporters worldwide, journalists in Sierra Leone spend countless hours typing away at scripts and chasing down sources for stories. Reporters here tend to lack credibility, however, and so the country's Independent Media Commission [IMC] has decided to address the problem.

The IMC, which is separate from the government, regulates media in the African country. The commission has a code that states journalists should be objective in their reporting and keep themselves free from government or opposition control.

IMC Commissioner Augustine Garmoh said coverage of the 2012 presidential election showed many Sierra Leone journalists are not following the code. He said several radio stations gave more air time to certain parties, or sometimes only interviewed the ruling party and did not give opposition a chance to go on the air.
 
"During elections we realized, most journalists, most media institutions, were divided among party lines. We saw the issue of objectivity eroded. So we realized even the reportage, the quality of reports, were skewed towards particular directions," said Garmoh.
 
As a result, Garmoh said the IMC has launched a pilot project using a new media monitoring system called Stirlitz.
 
Fifteen radio stations in Freetown, the country's capital, are being monitored by the IMC. The United Nations Development Program [UNDP] is helping to support the project financially and technically.
 
Newspapers already are being monitored through the IMC using a different type of software to enter content data into a system.
 
Hasson Jalloh is the project manager of media development with the UNDP. He said the system, which logs audio, video and metadata, will be useful if journalists are accused of making errors in their reports. "It is helpful because always you have a reference point, that in case there is some infringement you can always come back to past recordings and have evidence of what was actually recorded."
 
The software also has been used in Ghana and Nigeria and worked well there, he said.  
 
Kelvin Lewis, the president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, sees the monitoring system as a dual-edged sword. He said on the one hand it will help reduce reckless reporting, but on the other... "It could be used to cower journalists into watering down their stories, into making sure they do not talk about things they believe would affect the government."
 
A news reader at Cotton Tree News in Freetown, John-John Whitfield, said the idea is not so bad. “I am not that much worried. I would be worried if I am not going through the right path. As I told you, I have the IMC [media code]. It is my bible. It restricts me from certain things, and it guides me to do certain things. Once I know I am working in line with what my bible tells me, I am not worried."
 
Another Cotton Tree News journalist, Tamba Tengbeh, said journalists should not be afraid to be critical of the government. "You just have to be bold enough and challenge people in position and hold them accountable for certain things."
 
Garmoh insists the IMC does not want journalists to feel intimidated or censor themselves, especially when reporting on the government. He said they should see this as a tool to improve their reporting.
 
"It is actually not a way to muzzle the press, not in a way to be a policeman, to be a watchdog. We are basically making sure there is peace in this country," said Garmoh.
 
According to Reporters Without Borders, Sierra Leone ranks as 62nd out of 179 countries in press freedom this year. Finland has the top ranking.

As for what happens with the information IMC documents, it will all be archived on Stirlitz at the IMC building.
 
It also will be used as a teaching tool, said Garmoh. "We also want to use this for research purposes, because we have the University of Sierra Leone and other colleges around the country doing mass communications. We believe that they will be able to use the facility to come and look at archived documents, archived documentaries, archived programs of various radio stations and be able to make very good use of it."
 
He said the pilot project will last until end of the year, and then the hope is to have a national system in place using the software to monitor all radio and television stations in Sierra Leone.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs