Muctaru's Blog

I am Muctaru Wurie from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I blog on a variety of subject from my homeland and most of my post feature well researched stories I do.

Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Leone newspaper

Sierra Leone’s evolving media landscape

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The history of the media in Sierra Leone has always been through highs and lows; for a country that has had a very long ride of dictatorship and one party rule. Media institutions have never been allowed to evolve in a natural way, the short-lived post independence growth witnessed by the media in the early 1960s that most analyst believed met it eventual demise in 1965 when the Prime Minister Albert Margai in the face of massive criticism from the Opposition forced through the controversial Public Order Act of 1965. Since then, the field of journalism has became an endangered profession, prone to the attack and abuse of the government of the day.

Apart from the controversial sections of the aforementioned Act, all types of rigid registration methods were put into place by successive governments to stifle the growth and expansion of a free and pluralistic media.

From the post-Margai SLPP to the successive and present day SLPP administration, media institutions and practioners have gone through variety of harassment and persecution. However, there is a new trend of growth at the present moment.

A look at Sierra Leone’s contemporary media landscape will indicate that there is a proliferation of new media houses – both print and electronics. From Freetown to Kailahun this impact is being felt. For the first time in our country’s history we now have an independent television station that is broadcasting news and editorial content alongside the state-owned Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service Television. More, this television station – Aisow Broadcasting Company – also has an ambitious plan to broadcast live football matches to the homes of its viewers from the Sierra Leone Football Association’s Premier League. If this proposal goes through it will serve as a breakthrough for both the viewers and the development of the nation’s favorite sport.

Furthermore, Freetown that was once a city without a single FM station, now boasts of several, some of them transmitting twenty hours a day. Amazingly the arrival and popularity of talk-show programmes, which go through midnight has changed the way FM radios operate in the country. The issues of the day are openly and publicly discussed. With the availability of mobile phones, callers from all corners of the country can now take part in these discussions and radio call – in programmes. Deprived communities such as the eastern part of the city, which account for a larger fraction of the city’s population, also now boast of a community radio station at Kissy. The Citizen Radio station has become so popular that it now represents the voices of the disenfranchised masses in that community.

However, Radio UN has taken the lead in disseminating news and information nationwide. Its Nightline phone-in programme, presented by Mamaja Jalloh, a.k.a. D J. Base, has become the nation’s favorite.

Despite the negative branding of the state of journalism in Sierra Leone, there is visibly a gradual change in that direction. The media is gradually gaining a football in the is gradually gaining a foothold in the carrying out of it basic functions

The local music industry has also experienced a sudden boost and is now a means through which the nation’s youth can make their voices heard. Helped by both the media, the music industry has its stars and idols, esteemed across the nation and beyond. There are also more entertainment options in the various FM stations.

The rise in the number of newspapers is also noteworthy. From The Exclusive to the African standard, newspapers are taking a new and creative form of publication. In an expression of diversity, they are reflecting various shades of opinion to their audiences. For the past few years newspaper stands have been inundated with a plethora of innovative publications; also for the first time in Sierra Leone there is a print publication that exclusively publishes entertainment and sports – Kalleone Newspaper.

This growth in media pluralism is no doubt due to the present democratic dispensation. But for government of which at it incipient stage attempted to initiate a draconian media bill through parliament, this seemingly unperturbed increase of media houses and the facilitation and enactment of the Independent Media Commission Act 2000, could well be attributed also to the supportive and crucial role the media played during the AFRC interregnum and the peace process that led to the May 22nd, 2002 elections.

They are also acting as sources and sometimes significant news angles. Sometimes these officials even go out of their way by taking part in call – in programmes and putting across the view of the government to a desperate and often critical public. Engaging rather than alienating the media has therefore turn out to be the choice of government.
Despite the negative branding of the state of journalism in Sierra Leone, there is visibly a gradual change in that direction. The media is gradually gaining a foothold in the carrying out of its basic functions.

Written by Muctaru Wurie

February 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm