The government yesterday hailed media owners and managers in Africa for drawing up and endorsing leadership principles guiding their profession.
It described the act as a significant aspect in the enhancement of meaningful media contribution to the country’s economic growth and that of the continent.
The remarks were made by Information, Youth, Culture and Sports minister Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, at the official launch of the Leadership and Guiding Principles for African Media.
The guiding principles have been prepared by African media professionals under the auspices of the Africa Union (AU) following its resolve to improve journalism and general conducts of the media in the continent.
The drafting and related processes, was spearheaded by the African Media Initiative (AMI) in collaboration with national media bodies and organs. Yesterday’s launch was organised by AMI in partnership with the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT).
Minister Nchimbi said media owners and managers must be real models in their conducts by ensuring that operations of their media houses are in line with the set national and international code of ethics and standards.
“They (media owners and managers) should commit themselves to model their conduct to the highest standards of corporate governance,” Nchimbi said as he launched the principles.
Accountability is an important element for media owners to observe, he said, showering praises on African media professionals and bodies for coming up with the package which seeks to address accountability in the industry.
The move, he added, demonstrates commitment and determination of media owners and managers in Africa to comply with laws, regulations and industry codes.
Other issues addressed in the principles, according to the minister, revolve around transparency, relationships between employers and employees, as well as how to cope with the new media challenges resulting from fast developments taking place in the information, communication and technology sector.
According to the minister, when presenting awards to best journalists recently, President Jakaya Kikwete, spoke of skills and compensation, placing the two specific issues as obligations in the hands of media owners.
“Today, it is interesting to note that we are launching an initiative that establishes a solid framework for addressing these very issues raised by the Head of State, among a raft of others that, once implemented, would change the media landscape for the better.
“By endorsing these principles, media owners and managers are making a key statement about their willingness and capacity to transform, not just society, but also, themselves in order to play a more effective role as true partners of the state,” he added.
In his introductory remarks, Africa Media Initiative (AMI) CEO Anadou Mahtar Ba, said although they are not legally-binding, the guidelines would set pace for professionalism and adherence to ethics on the part of media owners and managers.
“One cannot be sued for violating these principles, but the audience would stand as judge of our conducts…the fact that we have committed ourselves (media owners and managers) to the principles, we are sending a strong message to the audience…we will keep watching our conducts and make a decision, saying ‘such-and-such’ media is operating ethically or unethically,” AMI CEO said.
For his part, MOAT Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi said for years, journalists had been blamed for unethical conducts, but now media owners and managers would be obliged to observe ethics after the introduction of “these guidelines”.
“If all key players that is editors, journalists, media owners and managers, play their part in ensuring effective implementation of these leadership principles plus the existing code of ethics, the performance of media would improve…we could also get rid of public complaints over unethical media conducts,” Dr Mengi said.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, Chairman of organizing committee, Theophil Makunga, said:
“These principles are being launched in Tanzania as a symbol of what is happening across the continent. In other words, Tanzania is launching the principles on behalf of other countries in Africa.”