Monday, August 17, 2015

Tanzania: Media urged to observe ethics in covering elections

By Pius Rugonzibwa

Mwanza — Editors who are ethics custodians in media houses have been challenged to avoid cheap politics and make sure editorial independence comes first while handling stories covering the general election.

Apart from observing ethics and ensuring professionalism throughout the election period, editors have been told to make sure they provide adequate mentorship to their subordinates in newsrooms as they cover the elections.

Presenting a paper during a training organised for Lake Zone editors and editorial representatives from various media houses on Wednesday, a senior editor, Mr Jesse Kwayu, Of IPP media said elections are trying times for editors.

"It is yet another crucial time where editors have to exercise a high level of professionalism and integrity by drawing a clear line between editorial independence and cheques," he said.

According to Mr Kwayu, while stories on elections are a hot cake, editors are supposed to carefully judge them and scrutinise motives.

It was agreed that during the general election, there is likelihood of editors receiving biased stories in favour of certain politicians with personal agenda and interests not stipulated in their parties election manifestos which are contrary to guidelines governing candidates, he said.

As for candidates and their backgrounds, Mr Kwayu said editors are this year obliged to expose candidates with questionable accumulation of wealth as well as being in the know of the budgets of political parties.

"These parties are spending public money during the election, therefore it is imperative for the editors and reporters to be certain before carrying stories on their spending throughout the session," he emphasised.

As the public is keenly following the social status of the candidates particularly those vying for presidential posts, it is crucial that editors take their roles seriously in reporting.

The training on reporting on elections was made possible by various players in collaboration with the Media Council of Tanzania who has prepared a special manual for journalists and media houses as a guiding tool.

According to MCT, it is imperative for reporters and editors covering the election to capture the bigger picture, bearing in mind the social, economic, political and cultural consequences of uninformed or corrupted choices.

The manual underscores the importance of additional knowledge for reporters and editors on electoral matters and related activities which require more than reporting skills.


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