November 29, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has urged media practitioners to step up as part of their contributions in the run up to, and after the March 7, 2018 elections.
Kelvin Lewis was speaking at SLAJ headquarters on Monday (November 27) during the commencement of a three -day intensive training on political reporting.
The training, which ends today, was funded by the Canadian Fund for Local Development and Canadian High Commission office in Ghana, with the aim of ensuring that journalists have the required skills to report on the elections, as well as promote democratic and political processes.
He stated that the role of the media would be very much critical during and after the electioneering period, thus urging journalists to focus on issues that are germane to the country.
“We have a duty to the people and not the politicians. We must make sure we ask the right questions on behalf of the people to the politicians. We should also ensure that we play our role in a non-partisan manner,” he urged.
He said the rationale behind seeking funding for the training was because of the fact that they would not want a situation wherein the media will be criticised as a partisan player in the electioneering process.
“We have sought this funding from the Canadian government to do series of political reporting training and monitor the work of journalists in the run up to the polls. We want journalists to ensure that our political reports are above all,” he stated.
Mr. Lewis revealed that as part of the monitoring phase of the project, SLAJ would provide support to some media houses in their coverage of the elections.
While thanking the Canadian government for their support, the SLAJ president emphasised that politicians should be playing the game and not the media.
On behalf of the Canadian government, Steven Douglas underlined his government’s support of what SLAJ has been doing and pledged continued support to the media body during and after the elections.
“We are happy to work with SLAJ on these series of trainings on democratic and political processes. The trainings will help reinforce what journalists have been doing well,” he said.