Monday, March 28, 2011

Media and Accountability: The Debate.

We're waiting for the Guest of Honor and a few other panelists to join the debate, but as time waits for no man the event is forging ahead. On the hotseats: Adam Simbeye (Host of This Week In Perspective- TBC One), Ichikaeli Maro (Editor- Daily News), Richard Mgamba (Editor- The Guardian, IPP Media).

Adam Simbeye challenged us to be focused in our definition of relationships of accountability and responsibility. First responsibility goes to the public, according to him. Ichikaeli Maro clarified that Daily News is NOT a government-owned newspaper, it is a publicly-owned newspaper and it's first job is to serve the interests of the Tanzanian public. Richard Mgamba was quite adamant about journalistic professionalism and responsibility: laxity, inaccuracy are not defensible!

Observation: before and leading up to the 2010 elections I was a massive fan of TBC, Habari Leo and Daily News. They seemed to be oases of reason in a sea of hysterical partisanship. Mind you, I did consume other media. However, after the elections there have been some serious crackdowns at TBC and an evident sea-change in the government's attitude towards free media. I am skeptical about Daily News' alleged independence from Establishment agendas. TBC is just tragic. But at least Habari Leo still has the crispest Kiswahili this side of Rai.

Highlight: Richard Mgamba also made note directly that the former head of TBC (allegedly, ahem) lost his job as a direct result of being accountable to the public rather than to the oligarchy. Word.

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