By Lawrence Williams
With a little support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) channelled through the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG), the Guild of Newspaper Editors – Sierra Leone (GoNE-SL) convened a ‘Reformative and Consultative’ meeting on Monday 24th to examine its governance and management structure and to chat the way forward to an elective congress not later than six months from today.
During the deliberations, the Guild for the first time in nearly a decade reviewed adverts pricing upwards; appointed an ad hoc committee to review the Guild constitution and another to look at project proposals for the organisation.
Statements by the MRCG and IMC chairpersons challenged editors to deal more responsibly with the newsroom.
Chairman of the MRCG Board, Dr. Victor Massaquoi underscored the importance of having a well-organized body that is capable of discharging its functions effectively and efficiently. He reminded us about the ethics of journalism and asked that we set standards of integrity that encourage the highest ethical and professional performance.
George S. Khoryama, chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) re-echoed that the Guild must strive to attain the highest level of professionalism through education, training, and other professional development, including attaining financial sustainability.
“Media institutions should ensure the highest level of efficiency in the provision of media services in the country,” he said.
Addressing his constituents, Chairman of the Guild, Donald Theo-Harding underscored the objectives of this meeting. He highlighted the agenda-setting role of the print media as we gradually move into an electioneering period. Mr. Harding pinpointed the role of editors to ensure independent scrutiny on the forces of power in society, including the conduct of official power at all levels of government. He punctuated that reforms are necessary to position the Guild in its rightful place in the overall media landscape in Sierra Leone.
Towards the end of the meeting, members of the Guild unanimously passed a resolution to extend the mandate of the current executive for a six-month period during which an elective congress should be held.
The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) made a sincere commitment to team up with the Guild to raise the standards of journalism and protect press freedom in the country.
The country’s Minister of Information and Communications delivered the keynote address.