Sierra Leone Reporters Union Engages Journalists Across The Country

In a way to address the challenges of reporters in the country, the Sierra Leone Reporters Union has organized a day symposium by bringing reporters and journalists across the country on a roundtable discussion to address the issue that will help secure a sustainable future for reporters and journalists across the country.

The symposium was held with the theme “Media poverty and the future of Reporters in Sierra Leone”.

In his statement, the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist Ahmed Sahid Nasralla acknowledged that media poverty is one of the underpinning factors hindering professional journalism in Sierra Leone, wherein journalism profession is grossly under resourced which has precipitated media houses to be handicapped in terms of competition among other media houses within the sub-region .

President Nasralla emphasized that media institutional poverty is creating hindrance towards media competitiveness in the country, therefore, the symposium organized by the Sierra Leone Reporters Union is very timely adding that the symposium will definitely help address the welfare of journalists across the country.

He equally encouraged the Sierra Leone Reporters Union Executive to continue the laudable drive in approaching the Independent Media Commission, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist and the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, with the full view of addressing the general welfare of journalists across the country.

The serving President of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union Amadu Lamrana Bah, reminded that few weeks ago, the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners such as the BBC Media Action and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, organized a two-day National Media Conference which was geared towards looking at the indicators that are viable for media investment. President Bah however expressed his dismay over the just concluded National Media Conference adding that, the foot soldiers (journalists) were never given the opportunity to take active part in the conference.

“Unfortunately, the two days media conference never captured the aspect of handling the welfare of reporters, the role of reporters and the media making itself very much viable. These are the few issues I took up with the President of SLAJ and other partners and stakeholders”. he said.

Amadu Lamrana Bah continued by assuring participants that the essence of the symposium was to discuss some of those issues taking into cognizance that the welfare of reporters is very important to his administration. He added that there are certain media institutions in the country where there is no assurance of end of service benefit. He also expressed that there are also certain media institutions who have reporters that have worked for over ten years as volunteers. Amadu Lamrana Bah said those set of reporters are not permanent staff of those media institutions but only survive on the tokens they collect per coverage.

Lamrana Bah therefore, described the aforesaid situation to be very unfortunate which was the more reason his administration organized such symposium. He also referenced the Independent Media Commission Act which made provision for media owners to provide proof of adherence of the legal issues particularly with the payment of NASSIT and the minimum wage for their staff. He added that the former Chairman of the IMC who had wanted to enforce that law, was blackmailed by the very journalists/ media owners themselves.

The Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union Mohamed Nyallay Jaward, also reiterated that the symposium was aimed at discussing the future of reporters in the current economic setting of Sierra Leone.

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He added that Journalists are living in an era wherein, reporters are charged with the responsibility to go in search for news but they are not paid and their welfare are long abandoned by media owners. He also expressed that the welfare of journalists are pathetically appalling as many media house don’t pay their reporters not alone meeting the minimum wage. The occasion was climaxed by reviewing the 2004 constitution of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union of which further deliberations and validation will be done on the constitution on a later date.

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