By: Robleh M. Lafcanbe
Somalilandsun – On Tuesday, Hubaal media group was ordered to suspend operations by the Maroodi-Jeh (Hargeisa) regional court. This event marks a turning point in the rising tension between journalists and the government. A battle SOLJA and CPJ claim to be one sided, when in reality that is not the case.
The media in Somaliland plays an important role in the lives of its citizens. It is the only way people of Somaliland, members of the diaspora and the international community are kept informed about what is happening in and around the country.
But when news reports only consist of biased statements and false accusations – what do readers rely on?
A significant amount of news agencies in Somaliland have yet to demonstrate ethical journalism. Reports and articles are consistently filled with insults and character assassinations. It is not a coincidence that journalists are finding themselves at odds with the government and the public. These situations are the result of poor journalism and a lack of understanding between the groups.
In order to move forward, the government, representatives from various communities and media stakeholders should co-operatively establish:
- A national media code of ethics to be followed by all journalists and media agencies
- A national independent media commission to serve as an intermediary between the public, the government and the media
A national media code of ethics will ensure that journalists are honest and fair and held accountable for their work. An independent media commission will be responsible for monitoring the media situation in Somaliland and guaranteeing that the rights of journalists and the public/private citizens they report on are protected.
SOLJA should also implement their own code of ethics for their members to follow. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the government and the public to tell their members how to properly do their job. The Association should be more than just an advocacy group. They should put more effort and time towards properly training their members and preparing them to be responsible and professional journalists.
There needs to be a collaborative effort towards reforming the way media is conducted in Somaliland, otherwise the situation will only get worse. This is an issue that can easily be resolved, as long as it is done in the right way. In the end, the people of Somaliland will rely on their media as long as journalists and news agencies do not take that for granted.
The author of this article can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter – @RM_Laf