Monday, January 22, 2018
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Study finds weaknesses in media Coverage, provides remedies


A study conducted on the performance of the media both print and electronic in the country has established weaknesses in news gathering techniques, sourcing, balancing and comprehensiveness of information.

The study conducted by researchers Christoph Spurk from Spurk Media Consulting Ltd and Abdallah Katunzi from the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication however established that the media in the country focus on serious and relevant matters such as economic , developmental issues like agriculture, health, education, politics , human rights and gender.

The study conducted on behalf of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) involved 12 media outlets – five newspapers – The Guardian, The Citizen, Mwananchi , Daily News and Nipashe; four radio stations – TBC Taifa, Radio Free Africa,Radio One, Radio Clouds and three TV stations – TBC, ITV and Azam.

On Journalism techniques including sourcing, the three month study conducted from September to December, 2017 established that most media outlets cover official events and do not initiate their own issues and ideas to pursue.

The stories covered mainly base on no or single source only and are not multi sourced. In the event of having more sources, they usually amount to a single source as all those interviewed give similar views.

The single source syndrome largely affects news broadcast by radio stations, the research points out adding that there is a slight improvement in TV news and programmes and in newspapers as well.

Balancing is conspicuously wanting in most coverage, the study established adding that most articles and stories also lack background information.

Another weakness noted in the study is the use of figures. Though figures are used in most stories, only a section of the media put them into good context that can be easily understood by the audience.

Commenting on figures, the Executive Secretary, Kajubi Mukajanga, said they are fundamental as they add value to stories

Using figures for the sake of it, compromise journalism quality and end up misinforming the public, Mukajanga noted adding that journalists should always understand figures themselves and make them understandable for the audience.

Probing is another important element which is lacking in the journalism practice in the country as most stories are not of that nature or analytical.

Structure of stories is also wanting, as the study established for the over 500 sampled pieces most display poor story structure failing to link the different parts of the story.

It is argued by the researchers that a good structure with logical links allow readers to understand the stories better.

The various newspaper titles, television and radio stations had their highs and lows in the pilot study for the Yearbook on Media Quality in Tanzania for 2017.

Editors, senior journalists and journalism lecturers who attended the briefing on the study by the researchers held at the Courtyard Hotel in Dar es Salaam on December 13, 2017 appreciated its findings.

Despite attempts by some editors to apportion blames on the calibre of reporters in most media outlets, generally the findings were accepted as well meaning for improvement of the quality of stories, articles and journalism techniques, sourcing, balancing and all relevant issues proposed by the study.

The study supported by the Switzerland Embassy as from next year a comprehensive Yearbook on Media Quality in Tanzania covering more media outlets with bigger sample will be published annually.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania, Mukajanga, urged all editors and media representatives to freely receive the data from researchers and work on them as they intended to improve the quality and performance of the media.

He added during the presentation of the findings of the study which was also attended by the Assistant Director of the Government Information Services, Zamaradi Kawawa, that this is yet another proof that the media in the country re-examines and re-evaluates itself for quality output.

Luca Etter, Head of Governance Embassy of Switzerland in Tanzania  pledged continued support to have good quality media in Tanzania which will support development efforts by also being critical in all aspects.

He acknowledged that most of the media in the country focus on substantial issues and was optimistic that they will use the Yearbook on Media Quality in Tanzania to improve their performance.

Etter who said he had a stint in journalism noted that being a journalist is not a glamorous job and he was looking forward for progress by using the Yearbook on Media Quality as a tool for improvement.

Ms Kawawa on her part said the government welcomes the initiative which will ensure better media coverage.

She appealed to media outlets to fully implement the proposals advanced in the Yearbook on Media Quality.

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