Tanzania: From the Public Editor’s Desk – ‘Great Journalism’ That Gives Happiness

opinion

Have you ever heard of “great journalism?” If not, follow me as I briefly revisit last Thursday’s presentation to editors by one Dastan Raphael Kamanzi.

Mr Kamanzi, senior knowledge management advisor at the Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF) in Dar es Salaam, was a special guest of Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL).

He was specifically invited to treat editors and senior reporters to the significance of “critical thinking in journalism that can make a difference,” via the MCL products–especially Mwananchi, The Citizen and MwanaSpoti newspapers.

The presenter defined “great journalism” as journalism for public interest and added: “By public interest, I mean nothing but public happiness.”

He immediately gave an example of a remote village whose residents walked tens of kilometres up and down the valleys, crossing a river teeming with crocodiles, to reach a dispensary, shops and schools.

He said a journalist who got a tip off about such a village went ahead to see, live and experience the horrendous life its people were leading and came back to publish what would compel authorities to act by constructing a school, dispensary or bridge would have, in effect, brought happiness to the village and its residents.

“Such is what I call public happiness; born of great journalism that is a departure from event recording which anyone can do,” said Mr Kamanzi.

He contrasted great journalism with “event (reporting) journalism” which he said was done by “common wananchi–almost by everyone with a telephone handset.”

Event recorders are classified under category “common journalists,” which he says is equivalent to what “common wananchi” are doing– common journalism.

Great journalism, on the other hand, demanded a departure from mere recording of events, said the presenter who comes from an institution that offers grants for investigative journalism and facilitates critical reflection and learning.

Event journalists, he told editors, were…

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