Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Presidential Hopeful Prioritize Welfare, Gender Mentorship
By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, Freetown, Sierra Leone- The Presidential candidate in the forthcoming election of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla better known as De Monk on Tuesday 9th of July, 2019 highlighted welfare, gender, mentorship, unity and independence which he would accelerate in achieving after winning of the SLAJ 2019 election on Saturday,13th July 2019. He made this disclosure during his media familiarization tour campaign to New Africa Business News.
Speaking to New Africa Business News; Africa Correspondent – Abdul Rahman Musa Suagibu in Freetown, the Presidential hopeful – De Monk said, he has pegged his manifesto in a quadruple circumstance chosen from various concerns proposed by media personal after his campaign engaged several media houses on the concerns.
On repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, he said that every SLAJ executive since 1971 has tried very hard to repeal the seditious Libel Laws a priority, adding that every executive builds on the achievement of the previous.
“The outgoing executive of whom it was a key figure has taken a giant step in the repeal process which is now at the end of the tunnel. My executive will take it up from there and finish this long and arduous race once and for all”, he said. He furthered that, after the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law the public and the government will expect more from the media in terms of professionalism and responsibility.
“My leadership will symbolize professionalism and responsible practice. I will ensure discipline within the media”,
He said, “Media houses are generally struggling to survive as businesses. Consequently, the welfare need of Journalists and their conditions of service are challenging and growing.
This is also having an impact on the quality Journalism in the country. If I have to work towards achieving independent and professional working conditions of Journalists and the viability of media businesses”.
My executive will look at Journalists’ welfare and working conditions from two angles: legal and economic.
On the legal side, it is against the law for employers to pay their workers below the minimum wage. The law also requires payment of tax to NRA and a Social Security contribution to the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) for their employees.
On the economic side, media institutions have in mind argued that, businesses is bad and that incomes don’t match expenditures. This they have closed related to the low advertising revenues and sales. With this situation and the over-reliance on traditional revenue streams, demanding improved conditions of service for Journalists without a corresponding support to media businesses would be counterproductive”, he said.
“While my executive would not promise a quick fix solution, or resolving the welfare and media viability issues entirely, we would confront this perennial challenge in a holistic manner”.
“I will encourage media owners to set up a media Owners Association (MOA). My Executive shall bring together all the stakeholders (SLAJ, the independent Media Communication (IMC), and the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG), the Labor Congress, Ministry of Labor, Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) the MOA, relevant Government Agencies and other parties, to begin an engagement process that would inform the next steps in addressing this challenge”.
“We have among us not only practicing Journalists, but also source of the brightest minds in media education and research. Some of them have done extensive research on gender in the media. My Executive will Continue to put such works into use, organize events that popularize their findings and recommendations, while and continue to promote research, learning and conversations around gender because it is only when we educate ourselves that we would be able to change our mindset on discrimination based on gender; he continued that, his executive shall support affirmative action policies to increase the voices of female in the sector and to ensure that they can thrive.
“I will invest in reviewing policies, process and opportunities that engender bias and discrimination and make sure we move towards a more gender equitable association”, he said.
Speaking on mentorship, he said that one of the current realities in SLAJ is that over 50% of the membership is below 30% years of age. “As a way of molding our young membership into a cop of professional Journalists, it is important that we create a system through which young Journalists, can be mentored. It is no secret that before any formal systems of Journalism education, Journalists were recruited and trained through apprenticeship and mentoring”, he said. Training this next crop of Journalists is therefore a matter of priority. My executive shall work with the relevant partners in Journalism and education as well as media development organization to develop a mentorship program for young Journalists. Apart from the formal program, my executive would also work to pair young Journalists with senior colleagues who shall volunteer their tone to mentor the younger ones and advised them on matters related to their career”.
Speaking on unity and independence, he said “My executive would work to ensure SLAJ remains one body after winning the forthcoming elections. We shall initiate a process to bring our members together. We shall work to address deep seated issues that have left some people unhappy”.
For New Africa Business News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent
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