For those of you who have followed the political highlights in Mauritius, I believe that the lesson of the week is “Make haste slowly”. This is valid both for our politicians (“think twice before speaking nonsense”) and our media (“thoroughly investigate your sources before publishing”). As well as for ourselves, as commentators in the very public social media sphere. There’s always more than meets the eye. Both may have valid starting points (for one anger at press coverage, for the other incriminating evidence), but clearly both have failed to handle themselves properly.
In this age of quick bucks, quick communication, quick impact, quick everything, how can we build a sustainable livelihood together?
It is high time that the Morgan and Robertson reports be really examined with a level-headed, rational attitude.
For those who may not remember, Robertson made 3 broad recommendations:
- Review of dated laws which affect the media (and communication in general) such as sedition, defamation, publication of false news.
- Introduction of self-regulation of the media by a Media Commission under a revamped Media Trust
- Introduction of Freedom of Information Legislation
The nitty-gritty details of some of his proposals may be subject to discussion but my personal opinion is that overall, these seem to be fair and balanced recommendations as they open the gates of FOI and advocate self-introspection for media.
Next week, there will be a launching of a report on access to information at the eLearning Africa Conference for the International Day for Universal Access to Information. I have contributed to the report for Mauritius and I can say that FOI seems to be on the way although more efforts need to be put in to lobby for it. Sooner or later, it will come because the State has made official commitments to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
However, self-regulation does not seem to be on the agenda anywhere for the media. It is high time that it be.
To read more about FOI and media self-regulation:
Preliminary report by Geoffrey Robertson QC
Interview in Defi Media: Les politiciens et la presse jouent au muppet show
L’après Christiana Chery: pour une instance de co-régulation des médias
A Gender Code of Ethics for the Media
Media Ethics and Regulations. Insights from Africa
Some publications on FOI and media self-regulation
Workshop on Freedom of Information
Une interview non publiée sur la liberté d’information
Why do we need Freedom of Information?