Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 May 2015
Several newspapers in Sierra Leone have had their knuckles rapped by the country’s Independent Media Commission (IMC), after investigating complaints of breaches of the media code of conduct.
But the total sum announced today by the IMC, is far less than the historic fine levied against one of the country’s most popular newspapers by the courts in Freetown over three years ago, for defamation of character, estimated at over £8,000 (eight-thousand British Pounds Sterling).
Journalists and proprietors of newspapers in Sierra Leone are struggling to come to terms with the need to balance the media’s right to inform, educate and entertain, with the individual’s right to privacy.
And this balance they must get right, if they are to avoid the rising cost of IMC fines, which media analysts say could cripple most of the country’s newspapers if they are not careful.
But can newspapers in Sierra Leone avoid publishing stories they honestly believe to be in the public’s interest as well as of interest to the public, for fear of financial penalties or even threats of arrest – based on ‘orders from above’ as political tension rises in the country?