EDITORIAL: Accredit of journalists is a score for Media Authority
On Wednesday, the Media Authority announced a plan to register all practising journalists in the country to weed out imposters in the profession.
The Media Authority, a body mandated with policing the sector, said the exercise is intended to differentiate and professionalise the sector by ensuring that only trained scribes take up the responsibility of informing the people.
According to Elijah Alier Kuai, the Managing Director of Media Authority, the media industry is currently operating as a free zone where anyone feels capable of being a practicing journalist, and this must end.
It is prudent to give credit where it is due. The Media Authority has taken the right step to clean up the sector by ensuring that practising journalists merit the responsibility put on their shoulders by not only their employers but also the nation on which they are expected to build.
With the emergence of new technologies that make information spread faster and more sophisticated on mobile phones, anyone capable of taking pictures and posting them on social media would feel like they could be a journalist.
This not only affects the credibility of the profession but also makes journalism look extremely cheap and valueless. Journalism is not about being good at writing or speaking; one must have the craft of telling stories. The ethical and legal aspects of the craft must be manifested in the mastery and execution of duties.
However, there is another concern that certainly comes up. The media authority should ensure that it remains committed to independent journalism and freedom of expression as it pays close attention to the licensing of journalists.
In some countries, the council of media merely sets parameters for the job along with factors such as minimum age, education level, and nation of origin. In some cases, the authorities issue press cards only to journalists certified to follow the official line.
Licensing journalists is not a bad idea because it exists in democracies that consider journalism to be a profession on the level of doctors and lawyers.
Every professsion must be licensed and journalism is not an exception, but this should not interfere with the independence of the media and freedom of access to information by the journalists.