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Ahead of March 7 multitier elections…

SLAJ constitutes Media Monitoring & Review Committee

January 11, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

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With support from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has established a Media Monitoring and Review Committee (MMRC) ahead of the March 7 multitier elections.

The committee, which was officially unveiled yesterday at the association’s headquarters in Freetown, will help collect data, analyse and report on media activities and output leading up to the polls.

According to Coordinator of the Committee, Stephen Douglas, they would be putting together a comprehensive monitoring report after the elections which will be presented at the association’s annual general meeting in June.

Douglas averred that the monitoring would help journalists know what they have been doing well and where improvement is needed.

At the end of 2017 the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives agreed to provide the sum of US$22,000 to SLAJ to implement a project to help train journalists, monitor their output and also prepare report of findings. The funds are to be provided in four tranches to undertake activities of the project, he disclosed.

He revealed that some fifty journalists from across the country were trained in December 2017 on political issues as part of the project, adding that he was proud of the amount of female journalists that attended the sessions.

Chairperson of the National Elections Watch (NEW), Marcella Samba-Sesay, welcomed the initiative by the journalists’ body and pledged their unflinching support to ensure its success.

He cautioned journalists to be mindful of what they report during and after the electioneering process because it is crucial for the country.

“The media should be mindful because every single issue has become politicised. The media should be free from bias and not take sides,” she urged.

She called on the leadership of SLAJ to be clear from the start as to the purpose of the media and monitoring review as they should not be seen hunting their members and outsiders.

Earlier, former chairperson of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), Bernadette Cole, who chaired the occasion, commended SLAJ for the initiative.

She added that the idea of a media review and monitoring started when she was at the IMC, following the training of journalists across the country on how to report on electoral issues.