By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Chairman, Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC), Rev. Shodankeh Johnson, has urged journalists to actively speak out against issues that have the potential to incite violence in the country.
He made the above call during the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ)’ just concluded 52nd Annual General Meeting in Kenema, Southern Sierra Leone.
The AGM, which was held at the Dorwaila INN Suites with the theme “Role of Journalists in Promoting Dialogue, Reconciliation, Sustainable Peace and National Cohesion in Post-Election Sierra Leone,” brought together journalists across the country.
Rev. Johnson encouraged the media to generate content and ideas while collaborating with government and civil society organisations to foster peace and social cohesion cross all levels.
He expressed his appreciation for journalist’s efforts in delivering accurate reporting during the recent elections period and commended SLAJ’s I-verify team for their work in fact- checking stories to combat misinformation, disinformation, and fake news within the country
He continued that the pivotal role of journalists is to promoting peace and national cohesion, adding that journalists must focus on peace and refrain from disseminating message that could incite chaos in society.
He said print media journalist should utilise their platform to mitigate ethnic and political tensions within the country, acknowledging the significant power that journalists possess individually and collectively.
President of SLAJ, Ahmed Nasralla, said journalists have a role to play in promoting peace by focusing on messages that building and sustain harmony within the country.
Nasralla aslo underscored the importance of monitoring and fact-checking information on social media to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation.
He urged journalists to facilitate discussions centered on peace, thereby contributing to stability in the nation.
“Let us fulfill our role as journalists in promoting discussions that lead to peace, stability, and a favorable judgment from posterity,” he reiterated.
President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Edwinia Michaela Swallow, notes the unique challenges posed during the elections period, emphasising the importance of journalists in promoting peaceful coexistence within the country.
She said media institutions provided a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, as it was fundamental for fostering peaceful coexistence.
She urged journalists to focus on producing positive stories that encourage cooperation and collaboration.