SLAJ TGM 2022 in Makeni – A Story of Hope, Adoration, Opportunities and A Need for Massive Improvements in Practice and the Dispensation of Tasks
By this heading, I will allow you to guess the contents of this piece, but what I cannot guarantee is that we’d land on the same frequency and wavelength. Read on!
On a Wednesday afternoon (June 15th, 2022) over two hundred Journalists departed Freetown for Makeni. They’d take part in the yearly Annual General Meeting of SLAJ, but this year’s gathering has a narration on its own. Like we’ll know, there’d be good and bad sides etc, but let’s hang on, on the vices, just for awhile and concentrate on the goodies.
Discussions, Suggestions Agreements and Disagreements
On those – one thing that stood out for me is the innate desire of most Journalists to set the agenda for public consumption, unhindered! To them, information sharing is all that matters, but what I’d add to that is the need to set quality and bias free agendas. This is doable. We live in times where some people will do anything etc. It has to be made clearer that Journalism is expected to seek the interest of the public. We have to be the voices of the voiceless and yes, this should not be new and or news to and for most Journalists.
The IMC as a Regulatory Agency was discussed and among other things, it was suggested that the Commission should minimize the charging of fees and or placement especially for the renewal of licences and even registration. Here, the argument was that it is government that does most things for IMC and that there’s little sense for Journalists to, if you like, help in keeping the Commission up and running. People in the industry may understand this and maybe, find ways to address same.
Reporters and Writers want more pay. Most Media Institutions are constrained. This means that there’s need for more investment to enhance viability. Editorial Independence is a whole discourse, but where a media outlet could encouragingly pay its staff, the risks and chances of Yellow and Brown Envelope Journalism may be minimized if not eradicated. We all have to remind ourselves that Journalism has to be a fact finding mission and not otherwise. Using the craft and or profession as a means to disrupt logical activities is worrisome.
The Makeni Conditions
The rains did not allow us to have done a few things and noticeable among them are the expected open burn fire and the football match, but maybe – this should tell us that it is not always ideal to stage such activities in the rains. I will not talk about timing. I already did. SLAJ must fix this. We are Journalists and so we need to understand the value of time!
Manika vs Asmieu for National Secretary General. The results, Manika won! Umu Bakarr vs Jamiru for National Public Affairs Secretary. Umu won, but that’s not it. I was impressed. Asmieu and Jamiru wasted no time to accept the outcome of the results and to congratulate their colleagues. It was beautiful. While some of us did not read or listen to any acceptance and congratulatory messages from our counterparts in the Provincial Areas, maybe their arguments may be that there’s still room for petitioning…?
We will continue to say this. SLAJ needs more money. Journalists need money too. The job is herculean. A lot is involved. This is why investment matters. Such investments could go a long way. Just so we know, media is serious business. Sierra Leone may lag behind in great ways, but that does not mean that we should give up and let go. Where utilized accordingly, the media has the penchant to hold government to account and yes, to account. This is not like the normal narrative you’re used to. I’m talking Journalistic Prudence and the balanced monitorial standpoints of keeping people informed. Without sounding too theoretical, something a few people say I should reduce if not eradicate (and I respect those opinions), we all have to help matters. Please!
The Chilling and Dancing
Aside from the Election Victories, Journalists can chill too. In fact, I will unhesitatingly note and assert that our field also has very sober chillers and dancers. Notice that I have resisted the temptations of naming names in this Legendary Column. As a very dedicated observer, I sometimes adore the need to say things as they are, without offending and if you like coming at individuals. Institutions may understand. What happened in Makeni is a show of love, relaxation and coordination for most if not all journalists. Interestingly, I tend to have a few students in almost every part of Sierra Leone and Makeni is not an exception. A few of them adored seeing me for the first time. I was happy to meet them in like manner. What also interested me was the fact that a few junior and senior colleagues in journalism were like, ‘so Putka you’re here… We’ve been seeing your agendas, but you’re hardly noticed in the gatherings.’ Whatever those comments may mean, let us proceed? Do not worry, you’re not going to read long any longer and that’s if you’re cool with same? I may not know your answer and so let’s say it is what it is?
Conclusion and Recommendations
I’d be categorical to state that I do not feel like ending this article and I do not even know if this is a lengthy narration, but for the sake of protocol, let’s say these few lines will be the concluding aspect of this narrative. SLAJ is now an enviable association. We owe it to ourselves to continue to attract more members. We’re not doing badly in such a drive. What’s now needed is the fact that recruits work in line with the IMC Code of Practice and the SLAJ Code of Conduct. If we all do this, we could have lesser troubling issues. We now have several universities and colleges and other institutes that are offering Communication, Media and Journalism courses. If we could get all those students and graduates, we’d be talking about thousands of not millions of registered members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists. To do this, work with the Institutions and the Specific Departments. It’d never be difficult to get students to join SLAJ. In fact, it’d be a pleasure and privilege depending on the angle that one chooses to look at things. This is doable! If SLAJ will need my assistance in and on this, I’d be glad to help. A lot of our seniors in this profession can also help. Amen?
Another one – Now, I know that dealing with adults may be troubling, but SLAJ should be able to be a bright example in most if not all areas. I’d not write long, but let us minimize if not eradicate in all aspects. From departure, to the four-day gathering, we may wish to improve on matters, please and if you like, ‘duya!’
On investments, we can only hope and pray that we get more of same. To Government, we thank HE and if we could get more, ‘e nor go bad sir,’ but yes, we are grateful and we yearn for a judicious usage of the gesture.
Journalists! Work on yourself, be the difference! Write and broadcast what you know! Do not falsify, prime and suppress the news. What is right is right and that which is wrong is wrong!
Congratulations to all Journalists and Media Houses that won awards. Keep pressing! And yes, congratulations to our New Executive. Rule us well. You have our support!