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Clash of Generations: Veteran Journalists  Question Media Integrity of Young Peers

The veterans have criticized almost everything ongoing in the current media setup from the language used, prevalent topics, and etiquette in newsrooms to media leadership.

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Veteran journalists have accused new generation of journalists of being responsible for the deterioration of quality in the Tanzania newsrooms. This was during the two-day annual broadcasting conference which started on February 13, 2024, at the Jakaya Kikwete Convention in Dodoma. The conference is organized by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

In a bid to fight back against the violation of media ethics and falling journalistic qualities, veteran journalists formerly employed by the public broadcaster Radio Tanzania have formed their association which consists of about 256 members.

The veterans have criticized almost everything in the current media setup from the language used, prevalent topics, and etiquette in newsrooms to media leadership. They advocate for increased government oversight as a means to address these issues.

Burying the profession

In her reflection, the Former Director of Radio Tanzania, Eda Sanga unveiled the veteran mission in trying to shape journalism, “We will not allow for this profession to be buried while we are alive,” said Sanga who underscored that trust in media has reached it’s lowest point due to the lack of professionalism.

Several other veterans affirmed Sanga’s message and shared their experiences, especially of working with Radio Tanzania.

“Journalism ethics has been deteriorating, our broadcasting pride has been lost due to violation of broadcasting principles,” argued Angalieni Mpendu a former Radio Tanzania journalist. “Our profession has been invaded, we must return to control,” added Mpendu.

“Even the language used today is not appropriate, some of the stations are using street language,” continued Mpendu.

The lack of proper etiquette in broadcasting was also highlighted, “You are inside the studio, how can you talk like you are speaking to your friends outside, who is allowing you to laugh uncontrollably in a show that doesn’t require laughing”, asked Sango Kipozi.

Kipozi attributes former quality in journalism as the result of proper checks from media leaders and the three-month training that journalists had to undergo before getting into the newsroom.

While pledging to mentor young journalists, Kipozi emphasized the importance of regulation in the media sector. “Control is a good thing, we should not allow our young one to fall off the track,” emphasized Kipozi.

Media Economy

One factor that was identified as contributing to the declining quality of journalism is the lack of resources in the media sector.

“Proper journalism needs resources, many media houses do not have resources to fund their journalism,” argued Khalifa Said, The Chanzo’s Editor. Khalifa’s sentiment was echoed by veteran journalist Abdallah Majura.

“A journalist can’t adhere to media ethics if they are not paid well or paid on time; the result is resorting to receiving tokens here and there and writing according to the source’s demands,” argued Majura.

In his reflection, Majura insisted on the need to revamp training for journalists, Majura argued that at the moment, colleges and universities are more focused on newspaper journalism.

It was also noted that there was an influx of young reporters who got into the sector to chase opportunities offered online as a result of the lack of employment. Media experts argued that most of these recruits lack enough passion to give what it takes for proper journalism.

Push Back

Contributing to the proposals from the veterans of having more control and government intervention in the media sector, Khalifa Said who was part of the panel that discussed professionalism in media, argued that this would be the wrong way to solve the problem.

“I would like to push back on this idea of more control, if this was a solution then we would not be here, because the government has been strongly regulating media for years,” argued Said.

“I worry that if we continue to emphasize government control and crackdown by regulator the whole concept of media freedom will deteriorate and in the next ten years, we will come back here complaining,” continued Khalifa Said.

In his proposal, Said argued that media self-regulation should be emphasized and that this task should be left to bodies established by journalists themselves.

On his end, media pundit, Ronald Shelukindo who serves as a head of marketing for Multichoice argued that it’s impossible to find a solution by ignoring the current environment.

“In the past, Radio Tanzania was the only radio, so its agenda became a national agenda, and that’s what was transcended to schools, ethics was taught there and we all happily abide, as it was a way of life,” explained Shelukindo.

“At the moment technology has permuted every walk of life; people can create their content, share and receive feedback that they are doing well through likes on their social media.”

“We cannot find a solution for the present by relying solely on where we came from. There must be deliberate actions that consider the current environment to nurture people with the best foundations of understanding current circumstances,” emphasized Shelukindo

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3 Responses

  1. You are right, you media people need to form a body which regulates and enforces ethics, like other profession bodies do, eg doctors,lawyers etc.
    For some of us media houses like Clouds, Wasafi,etc are just a shame to journalism and the country in ganeral

  2. It is all about education, proper language training; discipline, and dedication. You can not have people completing their primary and secondary schools with weak passed (D) who are pushed into becoming teachers or journalists as a last resort. The present situation is such that neither Swahili nor English is taught well resulting in mediocre performance all round. The fact that media houses pay pittance or nothing at all to these boys and girls going around begging for “nauli” pretending to be journalists.
    Until we have a good education, excellent language training for journalists and proper remuneration for proper journalism, the problem will only become worse with time.

  3. Media ethics, or the lack thereof, in radio broadcasting, has become a cause for concern, with programs sometimes crossing the line of decency, making it challenging for families to listen together. The deterioration of ethical standards within newsrooms has given rise to content that is unsuitable for a general audience, particularly children.
    Corruption has seeped into the media landscape, influencing the narrative and compromising the integrity of journalism. The ownership of media outlets, especially radio stations, by wealthy celebrities who use their platforms to manipulate information in favor of ruling parties after receiving bribes, is a troubling trend. This not only distorts the truth but undermines the very essence of unbiased reporting.
    Universities, often viewed as the breeding ground for ethical journalism, are falling short in mentoring students from colleges once they enter the professional realm. The lack of practical guidance and mentorship in workplaces perpetuates a cycle of substandard reporting and compromises the credibility of emerging journalists.
    Some journalism colleges, either lacking accreditation or falling short of industry standards, continue to produce graduates ill-equipped for the demands of the media landscape. This results in a workforce that is not only underprepared but contributes to the perpetuation of inaccurate and biased reporting.
    The issue of low pay in the media industry is a significant factor contributing to substandard reporting, especially in radio stations. With meager monthly incomes as low as Sh250,000, broadcasters are forced to seek additional income streams, often turning to being masters of ceremonies to make ends meet. This financial strain compromises their ability to dedicate time and effort to in-depth and quality journalism.
    I concur with Khalifa, my colleague, that regulating the media can never place the fraternity anywhere because regulators are also not that impartial, as they grill Mawio at the expense of Tanzanite.
    Indeed, the current state of radio broadcasting, marked by ethical lapses, corruption, inadequate mentorship, and low pay, demands immediate attention and reform. Without a concerted effort to address these issues, the media industry risks losing its integrity and failing in its fundamental duty to inform and educate the public. The call for change is not just an option; it is a necessity for the preservation of the media’s crucial role in society.

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