Drowning Fish: Failures of the Tanzanian Media

Drowning Fish: Failures of the Tanzanian Media

By Gauree Mdee

Cant swim: Nerve-chilling image.

The current state of affairs is nothing short of dubious and ambiguous. This is not said with reference to people in governmental positions, or to an army whose subterfuge extends beyond the dwellings of residents to the concern of neighbors; or about faceless people who provide power for the nation; or even for citizens who are tear gassed for reasons unknown moments after leaving the courthouse escorting their candidate back to his office (news that was snubbed or covered haphazardly by all TV stations, with no exception during the prime time news).

The “cavalier” somewhat impetuous actions of our law enforcers aren’t even the issue being addressed here. The puerile idea that what’s going on in North African nations could trickle down to a nation whose people are deemed too servile by their neighbors and their own for any sort of uprising, isn’t the issue either. This piece is not to poke at the spiel given by governmental officials every other day either.

This is about the neophyte nature by which the media, especially electronic conduct themselves of late. For anyone who has been following closely, especially televised events of recent times, you may have noticed a sharp contrast between the way the internet responds and the way electronic media react.

#bombsindar: As of the 25th February 2011.

The deplorable nature by which the electronic media covered events of the Gongo la Mboto military base explosions one might say it is relatively disappointing. More information was obtained from the internet, a source that has less than 10% of the population receiving their news from, within the first eight hours. Almost every television station that went on to report the event the following day aired footage of the night before, some even more transcendent than the previous nights’ information providers, which begs the question, where was this footage on the actual night?

"The biggest event in Tanzania this year..."

One member of the cyber world was quoted calling this “the biggest event in Tanzania this year”, so why the perfunctory display from our professionals?  Juxtaposing technology with the poor dissemination of information could be fair defense, but for those of us who are not pundits of matters governance in this country, you may have noticed the odd yet effervescent nature by which students strikes and Minister of Works deadlines set for suspected officials were covered. To date, no real follow up to both of these cases has been made.

One of the fundamentals of journalism taught in media institutions worldwide is the value of timeliness. It is already known that justice delayed is justice denied — is it fair to fair to say that the same is applied for news?

We must know as professionals that such delays could call for pernicious actions by a people already teetering on the edge from ongoing occurrences.

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Steven was born and raised in Dar es Salaam, and moved to Germany for his studies. He graduated with a BSc. in Physics (Jacobs University Bremen), and then a MSc. in Engineering Physics (Technische Universität München). Steven is currently pursuing a PhD in Physics (growth of coatings/multilayers for next generation lithography reflective optics) in the Netherlands. He’s thinking about starting his own business in a few years; something high-tech related. At Vijana FM, Steven discusses issues critical to youths in Tanzania, music, sport and a host of other angles. He’s also helping Vijana FM with a Swahili translation project.