President Jakaya Kikwete has challenged media houses in the country to lay a conducive basis for ethical adherence in the journalism profession by employing qualified people, paying them timely and adequately to create an enabling ethical environment.
He gave the appeal on Friday night at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam shortly after a select number from a list of 72 nominees who were awarded prizes for exemplary coverage of different events in fields of contest. Prizes such as laptops and $4,000 each for pursuing further professional studies within or outside the country were presented.
President Kikwete who was the guest of honour at the event, said there were reports suggesting that some media houses were not paying their employees on month end basis, leaving them moonlighting for survival, a practice that left some in an unbearable situation as to making ends meet.
The President referred to reports had it that some media houses did not employ adequate or qualified people and survive by relying on unqualified freelancers (so-called kanjanjas) who kept moving from one event to the other to get news which if used they were paid a token payment.
Journalists should be exemplary in carrying out their duties professionally given that, among other things, it is a vital multi-dimensional profession involved in educating, informing, entertaining and surfacing malpractices in one way or another, he told the gathering.
He showered praise on those who were awarded various prizes, urging them to keep serving as a mirror to others within and outside the media profession so that others could also emulate them in their socially challenging tasks.
In his speech to welcome the President at the first ever Excellence in Journalism Award Tanzania (EJAT 2011), the Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) Kajubi Mukajanga noted that the event was a realisation of a promise he made in 2009 that within a period of four years, the council would have organised such an event.
It was not without challenges for the MCT to have reached where it has up to now, he stated, highlighting a number of militating factors hindering the fulfillment of the dream, noting that a major challenge was to secure funds to organise the context through its various stages.
Competitions to pick winners for the final event were inaugurated on September 29th 2011 through smart partnership with eleven institutions, namely the Tanzania Media Fund (TMF), the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Tan), the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT), the Association of Journalists against Aids in Tanzania (AJAAT), the Tanzania Sportswriters Association (TASWA), the Journalists’ Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) and the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). Other contributors were the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Ecoprint Ltd, the UK agricultural charity organisation Oxfam, the Parastatal Pensions Fund (PPF). Others were Finca Tanzania Ltd – a savings and loan group, Executive Solutions Ltd – a media promotional outfit, Regalia Media and Precisionair, a champion emerging airline.
With regard to media houses, those who partnered in the contributions include TBC1, TBC-Taifa, Channel 10, The Guardian, Nipashe, Radio Uhuru, Jambo Leo, Changamoto, The African, Mtanzania, Majira, Daily News, Habari Leo, Mwananchi and Uhuru.
On the way forward, the MCT Executive Secretary said apart from gratitude to those rendering support to the council, the thrust is to place council finances and funding on a self-reliant basis.
A long term plan being worked upon by MCT envisages building a three storey complex in Bagamoyo where they have secured plot and some 13 acres of land to be deployed for development plans, he told the gathering.
The media council and its partners organized the excellence awards to identify and reward excellence in journalism, as well as bring together practitioners for comparing notes in the various fields of the profession.
"We believe the winners of the awards will not only be motivated to excel more but will act as role models to others," the council executive intoned.
The 2011 awards had attracted some 772 entries from only 304 in 2009, with the entries received including feature articles, news stories, feature programmes in the print and electronic media.
Those submitting their entries included non-media professionals like a professor of political science, a religious leader and a fashion guru who have columns in newspapers.
An independent and competent panel of nine judges selected by the Council and its partners for their experience and integrity, with a track record for their passion for the development of the profession in the country scrutinized and evaluated the entries.