We have now learnt that #Oromia Radio and Television Organization has dismissed 17 journalists from their job without letting them know their wrong doings.
On Tuesday Morning (24June2014), these journalists were told by the police not to enter the compound of the organization, just at the gate, but they were not told why they were dismissed. It was said nobody from the officials of the media organization has explained why these journalists were made leave their job.These journalists didn’t receive any letter from the management of the organization that clearly explains the reasons for their dismissal. They were simply told to go away. The journalists should have at least been told why they are fired from their work. If there is any wrong that they have done, the media managers must have appropriately explained to these journalists.
Basically, these journalists were dismissed simply because they are committed to the principles of journalism. These journalists tried to objectively present news and views to the public without tampering with it. These journalists worked, to their best, to help their society get true and accurate information. These journalists made efforts to promote the language and culture of their society. These journalists refused to tell lies; they refused to do the work of public relation officers. These journalists critically looked into events; they tried to interpret and contextualize them; they questioned and at times they challenged their bosses. They just demanded for freedom to do their job. They just wanted to practice journalism, nothing else, that finally cost them lose their job. Now, where will these journalists turn to for help? Who will be listening to them? This is really unfortunate.
I personally know some of the journalists; they always worked hard to come up with wonderful programs. They are very skillful; their presentation is so interesting. They traveled to the remote parts of Oromia region and came up with very interesting stories. These journalists deserved awards for what they have done and for what they have achieved, not at all dismissal from their job. Treating journalists this way serves no purposes; rather it kills the profession of journalism and violates constitutional rights of the public to get true and accurate information.
I have seen under what kind of pressures journalists at the Oromia Radio and Television Organization do their jobs. Recently, I and my colleagues took graduating class journalism students to Adama to visit Oromia Radio and Oromia TV. What we saw at the media organization was really terrifying. In every corner of the organization’s building, you see a policeman with a gun hanging down his shoulder. When you go to the news room, you see a policeman standing on the gate. When you go to the production room, you see another policeman standing on the gate watching everything that you do. When you go to the studio, still you see two or three police who scrutinize what you are doing.
At the gate of every room, you will be searched. You can’t take your mobile phone with you into the rooms. The searches will not be a problem for visitors like us; it is okay. But you get surprised when you see journalists working for the organization searched by the police and security personnel in every corner. My colleagues and my students are the witnesses for this.
When you see that, you will be compelled to ask yourself where on earth you are. Is it a media organization or department of defense? Really, this was what I felt at that moment. How on earth can you do your job as a journalist freely and responsibly when you are surrounded by army men? What is the need to put scores of security personnel in the media organization? Are the security personnel advising and consulting the journalists what to put on air? I don’t think security personnel have any clue about journalism in the first place. Is it the way of controlling information? It is said that those who control information, control the society. I need somebody to answer these questions for me.
We usually complain about the quality of news and information we consume on our media. But that is not right. Ask me why. The answer is the journalists are not independent; the security personnel are watching them. Naturally, the journalists would have loved to help us get the information that we need, but the environment doesn’t allow them. They are working in a very hostile environment. Look, if they tell you the truth; they will be fired which is costly for them. Thus, they are confined to tell you the tainted and tasteless development stories as usual; don’t expect something different.
Finally, we appreciate these journalists who lost their job because they worked to serve the truth. Their wrong doing is telling the truth; definitely there cannot be a different reason. Thank you dear journalists for the courage and braveness you have shown to serve your people genuinely and determinedly.That is what journalism demands!