Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 08 July 2023:
No honest, credible media will support a bloody, despotic, corrupt and abusive government like the SLPP. Let us face reality and call a spade a spade. When you have a blatantly lawless, tribalistic, unconstitutional, undemocratic and criminal government like the SLPP, where does the government merit the “Both sides of the story “ or objectivity benefits of journalism?
Journalism and Mass Communication schools teach that it is not just up to the media to supply news. Journalists are the light of the world. They enlighten and show the way. They are there not only to report the news but to provide clarity , understanding and reliable viewpoints and spins to events in the socioeconomic and political spheres.
It should not be forgotten that the reading public in Africa is not as enlightened and sophisticated in thinking and conceptualizing issues as that in advanced democracies. Most Africans who access the news do not have enough time ( especially in these days of the internet and social media with the glut in information) , academic grounding and knowledge to form reliable points of view on complicated events around them. They need the media to help them put events in their right perspectives.
Interpretative journalism has become the vogue
The world’s leading news media The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, MSNBC, VOA, FOX, CBS , ABC , AL JAZERA, London Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, the Guardian ( You name them ) all interpret the news today for consumers. And where there is established evil, they call it by name. They do not rationalize it. In so doing, they are not being one-sided. They just call it as they see it . In fact, they are being objective by calling evil for what it is.
Certain issues and problems are very clear and undisputable. For instance, Politics is supposed to be inclusive, providing actors and actresses from across the political divide equal opportunities to participate in nation- building.
When you have a Government like the SLPP that denies citizens from other tribes and regions this opportunity and employs only Mendes and Southeasterners , which is absolutely wrong, journalists should have the duty to condemn the government for practicing exclusive politics and bigotry without fearing that they would be accused of not being objective.
If the facts are clear and can be backed by statistical data, there are no two ways about it. It is wrong. The issue of “objectivity “ as government spokesmen and operatives would want it to be framed does not apply for the question will always be asked : What justification does the government have for employing only Mendes in a country with over 20 ethnic groups? Is there any? Will there ever be any? So where is the “Both sides of the issue “ conundrum here? Has tribalism become relative?
Similarly, governments are supposed to promote transparency, accountability , probity , democracy , honest governance and respect for the votes of citizens across the polity. If a government therefore patently rigs an election and denies people their rights to vote in the leaders they want, what justification is there for such s criminal and anti- democratic behavior? There is none and the media has the duty to bring the government to account for such unconstitutional and anti-people behavior.
When you listen to President Maada Bio ranting against the U. S, Britain, the European Union ( EU ) and the international community for concluding that the recent general elections in Sierra Leone lack transparency and validity because of the manner the votes from the polling stations were tallied, you see a president that is a bully, that does not want to do the right thing and that wants to force the international community to help him legalize illegitimacy.
What plausible excuses can President Bio ever advance for rigging the elections? There are none and the media outlets taking the SLPP government to task for its criminality and unconstitutionality cannot be justifiably condemned for not being objective.
Only brown envelope journalists receiving bribes under the table from corrupt government officials or sycophants and gravy- gobblers within the government would seek to excuse or ignore or downplay President Bio and his despotic SLPP Government’s electoral crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone. Any serious, committed and principled journalist worth his salt would come out swinging.
President Bio has also committed grave and egregious human rights abuses in power. His security forces and rabid supporters and thugs have gone around intimidating, beating, killing and maiming innocent civilians and opponents and these atrocities have been highlighted and condemned by Amnesty International and the U. S State Department.
President Bio has no excuse for these violent and bloody crimes against the people he swore an oath to protect. So, if journalists take the government to task for these atrocities, can they be justifiably accused of not being objective? Where does objectivity come in?
The media are there to promote the public good. If the government is useless and not serving the people’s interest, it is a mark of patriotism , not bad journalism, to propagate the evils of the government from the rooftops.
Media offer a platform for public debate on national and international issues and media help frame and shape public opinions ; media help the public make up their minds on salient issues. The media are not there to connive and collude with undemocratic, despotic, fascist, terrorist and totalitarian governments. Therefore, the Bio Government is getting what it deserves from trustworthy, credible and patriotic media. Supporters and sycophants of the SLPP should not blame media for being biased and one-sided.