Direct harassment and financial restrictions – Four journalists tell about the difficulties in their work

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Journalists face various forms of freedom of speech limitation whilst covering stories. Some have to deal with direct harassment, but some are restricted by educational and financial reasons.

 

Dennis Msacky

Dennis Joe Msacky, Tanzania

“Our newspaper was banned for three weeks for revealing the salary of government,” said Msacky, the Managing Editor for Tanzania’s second largest newspaper, Tanzania Newspaper.

The incident happened around three years ago. The journalists were not harmed in other ways and their website was not tampered, but the law which enables government to ban media still exists.

Tanzanian journalists used to do live coverage during parliamentary debates. “But at the moment, the government says no live coverage. So the members of parliament discussed in darkness, and people, they don’t know what’s going on,” added Msacky.

 

Bekti Nugroho

Bekti Nugroho, Indonesia

In 1994, Nugroho worked in the weekly magazine Editor and wrote about an ex-military vessel which the president imported from Germany, as did some other publications.

“Habibie, the president of Indonesia at the time, didn’t like it,” said Nugroho. Editor was shut down for good.

Ever since Indonesia got the Press Law in 2002, media has enjoyed freedom of speech. However, there is a law stating journalists can be jailed, though the Press Council has signed an agreement with the police. “If someone wants to file a press case to the police, the police will ask first to the Press Council to evaluate if this is a press case or penalty case,” added Nugroho.

“Limitations of press freedom now are coming from inside. The first comes from the owner because many owners of media are involved with political party.”

Other threats come from the economic values, as the industry prioritizes profit over idealism, Nughoro stresses.

 

Azer Mnasri

Azer Mnasri, Tunisia

Freelance journalist Mnasri often investigates terrorists, Tunisians who are going to Syria, filming with hidden camera and taking the same route from Tunisia to Turkey and down to border towns.

“When he returned to Tunisia he received a threat in his Twitter. Fortunately nothing happened and the police asked him some information to guarantee his security,” translated Nadja Madani.

Since the revolution the situation has been so sensitive that at times, mainly when it comes to terrorism, there have been limitations. “You don’t have to tell everything about what you see because if there’s a terrorist attack or an investigation by the police about the terrorist. You don’t have the right to tell the police everything.”

 

Selma Marivate

Selma I. T. C. Marivate, Mozambique

In Marivate’s country, the problem is the government views journalists as activists criticizing and embarrassing them.

“But the biggest challenge is education. Because most journalists don’t have opportunity to go to university, they lack skills like understanding of economic and political issues,” said the STV’s journalist.

According to Marivate, many stories on corruption are not published in the media as journalists do not know how to interpret them and they do not know how to find those stories.

“Another problem is that we don’t have many female journalists, whilst we have many gender issues, such as school girls marrying too early and having many children without proper education or safe housing. This causes poverty in our country.”

Text: Jennifer Sidharta

Photos: Ari Siliämaa

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