The Ethics Committee of the Media Council of Tanzania has directed Kiu newspaper to apologise to a Journalist cum researcher, Leila Sheikh for publishing an offending article against her.
In a ruling passed during the committee arbitration session on February 7, this year, the Chairperson of the committee, Justice Thomas Mihayo concurred that the article not only injured Leila Sheikh but also could have led to a breach of peace.
The committee expressed concern over the intrusion into individual faith by some section of the media.
It challenged journalists to educate themselves on making the best use of new media – blogs- in their reportage while adhering to professional ethics.
Kiu is allegedly to have copied and pasted comments of some bloggers who branded the complainant as anti- Islam and anti- Christian for her proposals on working with homosexuals in view of minimizing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In his defence, Kiu’s Assistant Chief Editor, Issa Bendera argued that his newspaper had no responsibility for the disputed article since it only quoted bloggers.
This argument was not accepted by the Committee and instead it reminded media outlets to refrain from being judgemental especially in the headlines.
“ In reporting news , journalists should narrate the events and facts as they are and should let the readers, listeners and viewers to interpret the information and form independent opinions, instead of shaping their opinions through judgemental headlines”, the Committee warned.
It also reminded editors that they are responsible for any content that they publish or broadcast, even when the said content is opinion.
The editors, the Committee emphasised, should be extra careful before publishing an opinion which is defamatory.
During session the committee adjourned to a date to be fixed later a case involving the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industries, Trade and Markets, Joyce Mpunjo who had raised complaints against Rai ya Mtanzania newspaper.
The committee made the decision after the paper’s News Editor, Ponsian Rwechungura, who had represented the editor said that he was not competent to respond to the claims raised by the Permanent Secretary.