Journalists have been urged to invest in analytical reporting and research studies available in the country to unveil public interest issues.
The call was made here yesterday during a five-day workshop on investigative and analytical journalism organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in collaboration with St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) as facilitators.
In the workshop, which brought together print and electronic media journalists from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, the facilitator said although there was a certain degree of objective reporting in media houses in the country, there was a need for the journalists to invest in analytical reporting.
Unesco training consultant Rose Haji decried paucity of a reading culture amongst junior and senior journalists for failing to produce analytical stories of public interest to members of the public.
According to researches conducted in the country, she said, journalists needed to translate research findings and produce a distinct number of reports, unlike political or conference reporting which had limited coverage areas.
“Journalists normally have good ideas but lack focus on the agenda…they end up having a good story but of poor analysis,” said Haji.
Investigative reporting facilitator and Mwananchi Communications Ltd Reporter Fredrick Katulanda some reporters going to cover stories were not well facilitated for analytical reporting.
He said journalists from different media houses had a single diary, thus failed to set action plans for analytical reporting.
“As a journalist you’re supposed to have more than three diaries. One for writing assignments on a daily basis, another for interviews on the field and the other for analytical assignment plans,” he said.
Al-Amin Yusuph, a programme specialist for Communication and Information with Unesco, for his part, challenged the journalists and media houses to change the way they covered and reported stories.
He said lack of awareness on legal frameworks was one of the factors that hindered analytical reporting among media outlets in the country.
Meanwhile, Mwanza Region Commissioner (RC) Eng Evarist Ndikillo has urged journalists to report on issues, which will protect and maintain peace in the country.
Speaking at a symposium on World Press Freedom Day in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Ndikillo said a good journalist must report on well researched issues of public interest.
“Journalists are key players in development and should be impartial in their reporting. If you go for such kind of reporting you will be respected and the media house you are working with,” he told journalists.
On the Controller Audit General (CAG)’s report on the 2009/10 financial year, which unveils misuse of public funds in local governments he said: “The CAG’s report is already out but you find out a journalist writing a feature, which commends a district leader, while in that particular district there are embezzlers of public funds,” he said. He also urged journalists to participate well in the constitution making process
He urged them to report on factual issues and avoid cooking stories.
“We need you to specialise in issues like the environment, politics and human rights like CNN and BBC. They have specialised journalists in different categories. It is high time now for you imitated suck kind of reporting,” he said.
He also urged journalists to participate in this year’s census expected to start in August and inform members of the public on how they could make it a success in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
For his part, Retired Judge Thomas Mihayo urged journalists to spare some time and study well the current constitution (1977) so that they could be in a good position to educate other Tanzanians how to contribute to the writing of the new constitution.
“Read different issues about the world and people in order to acquire knowledge and be able to transmit it to others,” he said.
Several themes are expected to be presented by senior media experts in the country. They are the role of press freedom to encourage transparency and good governance and ensure society enjoys true justice, 50 years of media in Tanzania, challenges and a way forward to be presented by SAUT senior lecturer on mass media communication Nkwabi Ng’wanakilala.
Others are media freedom and the power to transform societies, which will be presented by EALA member Dr Lwanyantika Masha, the role of the media in constitution making process by Zanzibar MAELEZO Director Hassan Mitawi and testimonies on challenges of media faces to be presented by SAUT FM Director Emmanuel Bulendu.
The World Press Freedom Day was sponsored by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Culture (Unesco) and Mwanza Press Club (MPC) as a host. This year’s theme is New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies.