June 1, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Friday (29 May) engaged media stakeholders from across the country in a national media workshop to chart the way forward on the post-Ebola recovery plan.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the well attended workshop at the Hub Hotel on Regent Road, Wilberforce in the west of Freetown, MRCG Chairman, Ransford Wright, said the group was established in May 2014 with a composition of key stakeholders from the media, academia and the journalist association.
He said the MRCG is an independent corporate entity which seeks to act as a key driver of the media reform agenda in Sierra Leone and as part of the media development strategy.
He revealed that after the study to map the capacity needs of the media, they have had several consultations and stakeholders’ workshops, and that they came out with four priority areas which form the basis of the strategy.
He said the strategy includes improving ethics in the media through regulatory or self-regulatory mechanisms, promoting transparency and independent allocation of licenses and handling of complaints, stimulating an enabling regulatory and political environment for professional and pluralistic media, plus sustaining an independent public service broadcaster to serve all the people of the country.
Also, he said the strategy aims at strengthening professionalism, sustainability of organizations and to improve citizens’ participation in the media development strategy and content.
Mr. Wright noted that the workshop was in fulfillment of one of their objectives, which is to strengthen professionalism and improve people’s participation in media development.
“We are all aware of the devastation that the Ebola virus disease has wrecked in our nation. The media has been playing a significant role in getting to zero infection. As we are getting to zero there is every need for us to start thinking and planning how to recover from the virus,” he said.
He added that government has developed a national post-Ebola recovery plan for the nation, thus media practitioners are expected to be proactive and not wait for an invite from government.
Also, Head of Programmes at the United Nations Development Programme, Lionel Laurens, said the workshop was timely as the country was on the road to getting to zero Ebola case.
He said the media has a vital role to play in making sure that Sierra Leone remains on the map; the reason the UNDP had in the past and at present provided support to the media in Sierra Leone.
“UNDP believes that the media has a vital role in the development of Sierra Leone, that is why over the years we have been giving support to the media in the country and we shall continue to work with the media in Sierra Leone,” he promised.
He said the media has demonstrated commitment to the nation for the vital role it had played in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.