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Representatives of media outlets have reaffirmed their commitment to self regulation by signing
a declaration and receiving membership certificates from the President of the Governing Board of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) , rtd Justice Dr. Robert Kisanga.
One by one the representatives of the outlets were called out by the Executive Secretary of the MCT, Kajubi Mukajanga to hand in the signed copy of the declaration and receive membership certificates towards the end of the one day National General Convention of the Council held at the Blue Pearl hotel in Dar es Salaam on June 25,2013.
Reaffirmation of commitment to self regulation and the presentation of membership was the highlight of this year’s NGC.
The declaration states the following;- “the considering our responsibility in gathering, processing and dissemination of news to public;
Believing that the media has big responsibility in promoting democracy and good governance;
Knowing the importance of media practitioners to adhere to professionalism and journalistic ethics in order to provide the public with authentic information to facilitate them to make informed decisions;
Believing that the best way to promote professionalism and adherence to journalistic code of ethics and the public trust to the media, is by using the voluntary and independent Council which has now matured in executing its duties;
Considering the broad achievement attained in self regulation, training, harmonization and peer oversight interventions, through the Voluntary and independent Media Council and the positive contribution of its court of honour;
The stakeholder voluntarily and freely take –up membership of the Media Council of Tanzania with all rights, liabilities and responsibilities attaching to such membership in accordance with the Media Council of Tanzania Constitution.
In pursuit of this undertaking the stakeholder submits to the jurisdiction of the Media Council of Tanzania, the latter being a journalist professional body for setting and enforcing media ethics, standards and rules.
The stakeholder further undertakes to resort first to arbitration proceedings and be bound by the decisions arrived at such proceedings by the Media Council of Tanzania.”
The question of self-regulation was highly discussed during the annual media ethics symposium which preceded the NGC on Monday.
MCT has exercised self-regulation of the media since its establishment 18 years ago, but now there are indications that the government wants to introduce a regulatory body for the media.
Veteran journalist, media consultant and trainer, Ndimara Tegambwage – one of the pioneers of MCT - made a presentation on the importance of self regulation during the symposium entitled why self regulation in Tanzania.
The MCT Executive Secretary, Mukajanga- also a pioneer of MCT, defended self regulation in Tanzania as opposed to regulatory framework in his introductory remarks during the symposium.
Another veteran journalist Makwaia wa Kuhenga presented a paper on Why Tanzania Media Should fight Escalating sectarianism.
The symposium whose theme was Role of Media in Combating Hate Speech and Extremism was opened by the former Attorney General of Tanzania, Justice Mark Bomani.
Justice Bomani who extolled the role media in building bridges in society cautioned against the coverage of hate speech.
He also counseled journalists to be conversant with the laws of the land to help avert misinterpretation which lead to such incidents like excessive use of force by the police against unarmed and innocent civilians or for politicians to make utterances that would exacerbate breach the peace.
During the convention which attracted delegates from all over the country, the annual report of the Executive Secretary of the Council and Financial Audited Report of the Council for the year 2012 were adopted.
It also endorsed the re-appointment of RSM Ashvir- Tanzania as the external auditors of the Council for the period ending December 31, 2013. The firm had also audited the Council’s accounts for 2012.
During the Convention the delegates were briefed on the progress of the various activities carried out by the Council including specialized training.
Over 400 media practitioners received trainers of trainee training on a newly developed training Manual on Reporting Ethics which was formally launched by Justice Mark Bomani during the symposium.
The participants of the training were also enlightened on the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Editorial Freedom, Independence and Responsibility (DEFIR).
DEFIR prepared by the Think Tank on the Freedom of Expression and Media issues of the MCT, headed by Prof. Issa Shivji spells out obligations for media practitioners, editors, media owners, politician and even the government, was discussed during disseminations encounters at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) of the University of Dar es Salaam and Tumaini University, Iringa College during 2012.
Seventy five journalists attended training on reporting the constitution following a decision by the government to set up a constitution Review commission to prepare a new constitution for the country.
During the year, the Council also established a national register to record press violations in which a total of 62 incidents of violations were recorded.
The year 2012 which was the first in implementing the second four- year Programme Strategy of the Council, a competence based journalism training curricular for basic certificate, advanced certificate and diploma levels were developed by MCT and credited by the National Council of Technical education for National Technical Awards.
Ten journalism schools have been granted permission to use the curricular, the convention was told and that 96 tutors were inducted on how to deliver on the new curricular.
Other activities for the year 2012 included mentoring and internship of young journalists which involved 35 interns and nine mentors.
During the year, the Council also introduced high level engagement with editors in the form of consultative summit. The first was held in June 2012.
Complaints against the media by two former prime ministers, Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye were determined by the Ethics committee of the Council during 2012. All in all 28 complaints were filed at Council.
Efforts were also taken to promote mediation at regional press clubs and that 500 copies of guidelines for the clubs were printed and distributed to 11 press clubs.
The distribution went in tandem with training of press clubs ethics committees on how to mediate. Twenty members of the ethics committees from the regional press clubs were facilitated to attend arbitration hearings of the Council’s Ethic Committee in Dar e s Salaam.
The next NGC will be held on June 25, 2014 at a venue to be announced later.
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