"The government has a social contract with the people..." Richard Mgamba is going down a list of promises by the Kikwete regime and talking about accountability in terms of balance: do you focus on good stories or bad? At which point the moderator jumped in with this challenge: how does the media hold itself accountable?
Sure. But you know, I want to throw another spanner into the works here. How do consumers hold media accountable? I work in a very interactive form of media and I can tell you from experience that the level of responsiveness from the consumers is appalling. This might be because of the medium: not many people want to write, or type as it were. Radio and TV do better in this sense. But still: how many of us complain up one side and down the other about bad newspapers... and then go right back to buy the same paper the next day (voting by the wallet). How often have you, as a consumer, written in to a media house to give a piece of your mind about the quality of their product? Or do you think that accountability is manufactured in heaven like Manna?
Media ownership and accountability: whoooeeee! So this one participant pointed out that ownership is concentrated in a few hands, and this has consequences. One: some media owners don't care about the profession and create a working environment which forces journalists to resort to brown envelopes to make ends meet. Another: politicians during the election campaigns were known to strand journalists in the field if they did not write favorable articles. Okay, so it was a bit stronger than that, but at least he raised the specter of corruption. And then the kicker: as one earlier participant pointed out, its a social thing. Media is not an isolated sector, it just reflects the state of the society it operates in. What say you?