By Kemo Cham
SLAJ president, Kelvin Lewis, was quoted saying journalists should choose between journalism and politics and that genuine practitioners should endeavor to let the public easily distinguish them from impostors.
Speaking at a training session on the Code, Lewis said professionalism was required at all times but especially so under a system with a tendency to stifle press freedom.
SLAJ recently upped its acts against unprofessionalism which anti-press freedom agents have used as a pretext to reign in on genuine journalists. One weapon that has been used is the notorious criminal libel law which leaves journalists in perpetual fear of jail.
Alongside other organizations, SLAJ has been championing a campaign to have that law removed. And in other to ensure its members do not stifle that prospect, it embarked on a number of initiatives, one of which is the review of its outdated Code of Ethics which entails a comprehensive guideline checking practitioners’ excesses.
Reviewed by a three-man committee, the 20-article document deals widely with challenges faced by media practitioners in the field and in the news room; it touches on freedom and responsibility; transparency and accountability; truth and facts; accuracy, fairness; privacy; confidentiality; conflict of interest; and decency.
"People accuse us of being reckless or non-professionals. Our work is being threatened by this vogue of ‘citizen journalists’. The public hold us accountable for their actions," Lewis told a group of fellow journalists.
"That is why we should stand out as professionals in main stream media as well as in social media platforms… (and) weed out all those fake journalists giving us a bad name,” he added.
The current SLAJ Code of Ethics has been in existence as long as the association, getting amended along the way. But media rights activists say current development in the world of communication called for a comprehensive review.
Mass Communication lecturer, Joshua Nicol, heads the review committee. He said two key sections have been added on defamation and digital media.