Looking at the past 150 years, the five major phases through which Tanzania’s media industry has gone, were the pre-colonial period, which is often left out when studying African media systems, although it showed already an oral form of journalism. During this phase, communal way of life and societal moral codes provided a framework on which regulation of communication was premised. Followed by the colonial period with colonial media of German administration and following the media under the British colonial regime (Rioba, 2012, p. 52; Ogunade, 1986), where missionary and colonial objectives of Christianizing and civilizing the natives as well as the colonisers’ values brought a specific regulatory framework for the modern mass media such as newspapers and radio introduced by them. The colonial policies had a severe impact on Tanzania’s media landscape. Since colonial days, the ruling regime “inorder to ensure strict control of information flow […] always passed different rules and regulations” (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 76). It is noted that even post-colonial regimes inherited colonial institutions of state and government including the media law which were not necessarily democratic (Hyden, 1999, p. 143) and media continued to play the same role the colonial press had played in promoting the interest of the rulers (Kasoma, 2000, p. 13). Shortly before independence, a multi-party system had been introduced, but it was soon to be replaced by a one-party state, where the media was put under supervision (Sturmer, 2008, p. 106). “[T]he post[-]colonial phase where the then socialist regime of independent Tanzania sought to ‘Tanzanianize’ the media” (ibid., p. I) and where legislations were enacted which assured that media practice harmonized with the policy of socialism and self-reliance. When the cold war reached a freezing point and communist regimes began crumbling down, the democratization phase was initiated by “[t]he international wind of change [which] blew Tanzania away from socialistic norms into a liberalised market economy, and political pluralism” (Rioba, 2008, p. 15). Unfortunately, whereas politics and economics were freed through new policies and regulations, the media sector had been disregarded. By experts long-awaited, but in the end disappointing, the Information and Broadcasting Policy of 1993 featured several weaknesses which are outlined by Kivikuru (1994, p. 410) as followed:
“If Tanzania has, in many ways been privileged in her short nation-making process, the same cannot be said about [its] mass communication system. […] Tanzania has an extremely weak and urban-oriented mass media structure. All major media are publicly controlled, but the state has not given much attention to the implementation of established communication policies.”
Since the CCM party won every election since the multi-party system in 1992 has been established, Matumaini (2011, p. 227) even speaks of an “absolute hegemony” that has been “built on more than half a century [and the ruling elite] has used whatever legislation is useful to build a wall preventing access to any form of information which would reveal the repression, corruption and arbitrary power of the CCM leadership”.
Current situation Even today, the law in Tanzania is still seen as the enemy of mass media (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 76). Despite the existence of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and the provision of international instruments, such as UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the media in Tanzania operates under a very restrictive legal framework (Matumaini, 2011, p. 225). Even though both the Constitution of Tanzania (1977) and of Zanzibar (1984) provide freedom of expression to all citizens, “freedom of the media is not specifically mentioned in either of the constitutions” (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 7). Supplementary, there are more than 20 laws which are rather restricting than enabling media freedom. Dr. Damas Daniel Ndumbaro (2017, pp. 115) presents an overview of laws that are related to freedom of expression, thus media freedom and its criminalization by grouping them into three facets: Firstly, there is the Constitution and other international instruments on freedom of expression12 and media13. Secondly, laws exist which are specifically enacted to regulate the media environment (e.g. Media Services Act of 2016, Tanzania Broadcasting Services Acts of 2002, Tanzania Communication Regulatory Act of 2003). Lastly, even laws need to be considered which were made for other purposes but in one way or the other affect media and freedom of expression (i.e. National Security Act of 1970, Prison Act of 1967, Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002). Likewise, C. Kayoka, ex-journalist and now lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), differentiates between laws. He speaks of the Newspaper Act of 1976 as:
“[T]he main legislation that was guiding media in general, especially print media. But there are others that don’t talk directly about media, but they have a big impact on media, too. Like the 1970 legislation, the National Security Act, where it says you cannot publish this or that because of national security. Then there is the Police Act which allows police officers to disclose any information or they won’t allow you to participate in certain activities even if for public good. We have the Prisoners Act and also the Colonial Act, it is still there, which doesn’t allow journalist to promote prisons or even photograph the prisoner, even if you find a prisoner being mistreated by a prison warden. And then we have this new act, the new Media Services Act. So, we have about 17, if not even more, pieces of legislation controlling the media environment.”
Journalists, like the investigative journalist M. Islam, are aware of these circumstances that “the law itself is restrictive” and therefore they act quite carefully like M. M. Melo: “I never published anything under my name, because I know the risk behind that”. D. Kamanzi, Senior Knowledge Management Advisor at Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF), adds that “some acts and laws are limiting the freedom of expression […] because there are laws that can be used and some ministers have been given power. Then you find that the media is not so much free”. The increased use of social media by journalists as well as civil society has been seen as a new way to express themselves more freely (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 7). Yet again, by introducing the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 among other bills the president signed another piece of restrictive legislation justifying it by saying it is there to facilitate access to information and regulate the media sector. Whereas “critics argue that those laws entail draconic measures and are going to close down democratic space” (Bussiek, 2015, p. 3). That the 2015 Cybercrimes Act is invoked to punish critics of the ruling party can be confirmed by statements like the one of co-founder and manager of the country’s most popular website for whistle-blowers, Jamii-Forums: “They said: ‘We will come up with a law for the internet. You are going to regret what you are doing’” (M. M. Melo).
Fortunately, there are plenty of active stakeholders and media support groups in Tanzania lobbying for a more media-friendly legislation, and “the government has [even] directed stakeholders in the media to prepare a media policy to pave the way for enacting new media laws in line with international standards” (IREX, 2013, p. 403). One of them is the former journalist J. Marenga, who nowadays is a media lawyer and reports: “We’ve been working for the past ten years trying to advocate the laws, to have good media laws in the country. […] We even fight to have provision in the new constitution on the issues of freedom of the press”. Yet, a consistent support from major stakeholders is missing (Matumaini, 2011, p. 228). Consequently, Mr. Marenga also admits that “the law is not good for journalists at all. Because those are the things of which journalists want to go after and they are prohibited. The journalists are stopped from making exactly these stories”. Y. Mkinga, Program Officer Press Freedom Violations at the MCT, actually speaks of “loopholes” which are brought by “that law, that we have […] to the government officials who violate press freedom”. In particular, the Media Services Act that President John P. Magufuli signed into law end of 2016, replacing the Newspaper Act of 1976, is meant. It criminalizes media freedom and provides various offences like “the most used minister’s powers to ban or suspend a newspaper for public safety and security, which attract a criminal liability” (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 116). Moreover, this new act includes a section of licensing journalists and therefore restricts the entry into journalism by introducing the Accreditation Board with powers to accredit and issue press cards as well as to “suspend or expunge journalists [for committing] gross professional misconduct as prescribed in the code of ethics for professional journalists” (Media Services Act, 2016, pp. 9). That means the Minister of Information “has his hand on the media” (J. Marenga) which is revealed, because he plays a major role appointing the individual members of the Board. This fact and the new Media Services Act in general discomforts several media practitioners and the international community (El-Noshokaty & Velkova, 2016, pp. 3).
President John P. Magufuli Besides signing the Media Service bill into an act, the 2015 elected and current president, John P. Magufuli, caused sensation by posing dubious comments towards media practitioners. Experts claim that in addition to the restrictive legal framework, “the president is making funny statements” (P. Owere), triggering concerns about censorship by e.g. addressing two newspapers in a speech, saying: “I want them to hear me. Their days are numbered” (Mwalimu & Ibengwe, 2017). JamiiForums’ manager thinks that these kind of messages are “a killing mechanism. It is worse than a bullet because it sends a chilling effect to more than a thousand journalists”. Another time Magufuli threatened media by warning media owners to act more careful: “You think you have freedom, but you don’t have it to that extent” (International Business Times, 2017). Them being not only empty phrases, is validated by the president’s behaviour, because “this particular president, when he says something he means it, he can do anything, he can even close your media organization, like he did it to Mawio Newspaper” (P. Mallimbo). Several Tanzanian media system experts are uncertain about the future of Tanzania’s media and its role under Magufuli since he “is oppressing the media and sometimes is even going beyond the constitution” (D. Kamanzi). In fact, during my stay in Tanzania I came across the term “bulldozer” which in certain quarters is used to describe the president and how he politically behaves. Many agree on the perception that since this president has come into power, “our life has not been the same” (P. Mallimbo). To sum it up:
“[T]he rules of the game have changed. […] So, actually we are not very sure because he is an unpredictable President and the police has corresponded him to become unpredictable. […] It is about threat […]. So, he’s not friendly towards the media at all. And for him a good media is one that praises him. For social media, he even complained that there were people talking about him and he expressed a wish that archangel Gabriel comes down and shuts down social media (C. Kayoka).”
Ownership Although Tanzania’s media cannot be defined as many-faceted regarding its content, it is diverse in terms of ownership (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 34; Rioba, 2008, pp. 43). The demise during twenty years socialist one-party state, resulted in a spreading and flourishing of private media enterprises which restored hope for promoting pluralism and diversity as well as an opportunity to debate publicly (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 67). In general, the print sector is composed by privately owned outlets, while electronic media is a conglomerate of government controlled and private licensee. The latter shows a concentration of ownership in the hands of the same people like family members and business companies. Since media concentration and monopolies or cross ownership are not prohibited by law, accordingly, the ownership of Tanzanian mass media is marked “by cross ownership of both print and electronic media by almost the same group of companies or individuals” (ibid.). Especially in Zanzibar press freedom seems to be more constrained than on the mainland regarding ownership patterns as the only daily newspaper is owned by the Zanzibari government and other private media than some radio stations are missing (Freedom House, 2017). Besides, religious institutions feature well in ownership by spreading the word of God vitally to their respective followers via radio. Apart from Raia Mwema, a small media outlet owned by professional journalists, “most of the other newspapers are owned by politicians or business persons who have their own ambitions, their own goals” (M. Islam, Directing Journalist of Raia Mwema Company Ltd.). Indeed, it needs to be considered that particularly privately owned mass media, leads to a behaviour as in any other business sector “that seeks profits and treat each other as competitors hence weakening the basis for professionalism as well as professional solidarity” (Rioba, 2012, p. 220). Categorizing mass media by its ownership, political and ideological orientation, political affiliation and preference, the following picture emerges: Independent public service offers like Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD) or National Television (TVT) transitioned from state-owned ones. Besides there is media which is public but state-owned like e.g. the Tanzania Standard Newspaper Company with media offers like Daily News, Sunday News or Habari Leo or Zanzibar Television (TVZ). Other independent ownership patterns do also exist like independent private commercial (e.g. Radio Free Africa (RFA)), independent private non-profit (Radio SAUT) and independent (non-state) community offers which are mostly radio stations that serve community interests listeners. Last but not least, private religious, party and partisan ownerships like Radio Uhuru (CCM, political party), Radio Tumaini (Roman Catholic Church) or Quran Voice Radio (Moslem Council of Tanzania) play a role in Tanzania’s media landscape in terms of ownership.
Broadcasting British colonialists introduced radio broadcast in Tanzania, but it was only after entering in a liberal political environment that privately owned and community radio stations were established and registered in almost every region starting from the 1990s. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) the number of broadcasting stations has grown from one radio station in 1993 to 84 by the end of 2015 (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 29). “And whereas there was no single television station on Mainland Tanzania in 1994, by April 2009 there were 26 registered and other 18 cable TV operators scattered all over the country” (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. ix). Even though it is common for community members in rural and poor urban areas to share TV sets, radio remains the most accessible and affordable media in the country. Using Mr. Kamanzi’s words:
“It is radio, because you know, the radio stations are sending in all regions of Tanzania and people can afford to buy these small radio sets and listen to it maybe during work on the fields. And radio has been in our culture for a long time, so people want to go to “shamba” (engl. field) with those small sets and listen to radio. So, you find that radio is the most used media offer in Tanzania.”
The concept of community radio plays a role, although it is still new and evolving in Tanzania. “Community stations are generally defined as those run, owned and controlled by community members or organizations, for their own communities” (Bosch, 2014, p. 428). ‘Community’, as it is used in the context, can relate to two things: For one, the term as a geographical territory or a group of people belonging to a particular cultural or political entity, and for another thing, shared interests, tastes and values (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 104). Consequently, community radio stations possess aspects of social development as well as facilitate a flow of information, enhance local identity and give marginalized people a voice in general.
Print The print sector provides Tanzania’s media landscape with a large range of media outlets, “[…] [a]s at June 2015, 854 newspapers, magazines and journals were registered” with the majority of them privately owned. Mwananchi (circulation 45,000) is named as most influential paper, because it is number one in terms of readership, followed by Tanzania Daima (circulation 31,000) and Nipashe (circulation 29,000) (IREX, 2013, p. 404). Nevertheless, the Tanzanian print sector is facing the same challenges like newspapers in other countries regarding the internet and the outbreak of social media. P. Owere, a journalist at Mwananchi Communications Ltd.,describes the situation as follows:
“We do not longer have this dominating position, that we are the mouth of the news. […] The upcoming of the social media has caused that we have to rethink our strategy. […] Because when people know everything that you are going to write about, they don’t have a reason why they should buy a paper.”
It is problematic that the print sector can rarely keep up with the speed and actuality of radio and social media: “Not all newspapers reach all parts of the country. And also newspapers do not reach all parts of the country on the same day” (C. Kayoka). Furthermore, “a paper is expensive for a normal citizen to buy, so they don’t buy papers” (M. M. Melo).
News Agencies Enhancing the liberalization, the Tanzania News Agency (SHIHATA) was disestablished to provide a liberation of news. In the past, all news were ducted through the state owned news agency, whereas nowadays the different media houses in the country do have diverging sources, which seems to be an improvement for media freedom (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 108). Nonetheless, it is problematic that it creates a new form of old dependence on western media news. The number of stories from outside Tanzania is so high that one can speak of a mental colonization of local media houses, “because we don’t pay for them. We just go to the news rail and download and that’s it. Majority of the local stories need to be paid for and the owners and editors are not ready to pay” (C. Kayoka).
Internet The fact, that “in most cases nowadays, what we read in the newspaper, one already read on WhatsApp or in any other social media” (P. Mallimbo) shows how important and easily accessible social media in Tanzania became. Further, P. Mallimbo claims: “Radio and social media is number one, because it is fast, very fast, and it follows where you are. You don’t have to buy a paper first” and “Internet bundles are so cheap in Tanzania. With forty million mobile devices in this country, I think the people are mostly reachable via that”, says M. M. Melo. To relativize this statement, it has to be considered, that although access to the internet has increased rapidly during the past few years, “it is still largely inaccessible in rural areas, due to lack of electricity and poor infrastructure” (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 30). Besides, even though mobile phones are cheap and popular, they are not exactly used for accessing the news and informing oneself, but rather to facilitate financial transactions. Nevertheless, “[t]here are more than 5,400 registered dot tz website domain names” (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 108) with more than 253 blogs offering a lot of online information to various people. The country’s probably most popular website, is the whistle- blowing online platform JamiiForums, a mainly Swahili-language website on which users can post information anonymously (RFS, 2016).
To sum it up, although Mr. Melo sees “the future online” and there have been a lot of improvements in communication infrastructure, transport and electrification in the past two decades, the urban-rural gap is still an obstacle. Not only the print sector underlies a strong urban dominance (Kasoma, 2000, p. 28; Martin, 1992, p. 338; IREX, 2013, p. 408), but also internet access remains an urban centred affair while the majority of Tanzanians live in rural areas. Media access, usage and preferences can be elaborated by citing Mr. Kayoka, who explains that “it always depends on the region, what kind of media reaches, what kind of newspaper reaches, whether they have access to social media or not”. All in all, it has been shown that there exists a variety of media offers in Tanzania owned by different people and organizations. The problems for media freedom that a specific ownership tendency brings and which other interventions media offers and journalist have to face in Tanzania will be elucidated in the upcoming section. Suffice it to say at this point with Mr. Marenga’s words:
“You know, when you come from abroad to Tanzania and when you listen to the media and count them – because there is a good number of different media offers now, both print and electronic – then you might think there is a total freedom of the press or of the media. But when you go underneath, you will find some issues and some bans.”
Starting off with the latter, an indirect but quite obvious intervention in the media industry by the state is the advertising sector. As a result of the government being main advertiser and privately owned media outlets being reliant upon advertisement in their products, their financial situation is partly depending on the government which thereby is able to favor its own outlets (Mzee, 2015, p. 10; Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 109). This has been going on for a number of years now. Obviously, media houses which publish or broadcast news content critical to authorities have been victimized by losing their financial basis via income through advertisement (MCT, 2017a, p. 26).
Secondly, Tanzania’s government is increasingly intervening legally in freedom of media and journalists as already discussed. At this point the 2016 passed Media Services Act needs to be brought up again. It is noteworthy that the restriction of the entry to journalism constitutes an interference in journalists’ autonomy as P. Mallimbo describes, that “having something like accreditation and find the person who is responsible for it, is biased to media, a country is in trouble”. Contrary to proponents’ arguments that the bill could promote professionalism in the media industry, “it is likely to have the exact opposite effect and worsen the climate for free expression in the country” (El-Noshokaty & Velkova, 2016, p. 5). The authors are moreover concerned about a government issuing needless regulations on the media so that, self-censorship may be encouraged and it is not able to function effectively. As statements of interviewed experts revealed, the fear has not been reasonless since “it means and communicates something to the journalists in the country. It affects the way how they are treating important issues” (D. Kamanzi) and “even the media houses are now operating with great care” (J. Marenga). Sending chilling effects like President John P. Magufuli did, in connection with media laws which allow ministers to ban media outlets, intimidate journalists as well as other media practitioners and lead to a shrinking freedom of expression and of the media. Since end of October 2017, the second most circulating newspaper Tanzania Daima is the fourth local newspaper to be banned from publication in this year (Rasheed, 2017; Ng’wanakilala, King & Biryabarema, 2017). Before that, the critical newspaper Mwanahalisi was banned for two years just like the independent newspapers Mawio and Raia Mwema e.g. due to publishing articles critizing the John Magufuli-led government (The Citizen, 2017). In addition, only a few days after Magufuli warned media owners in the country to be careful how they use their press freedom, a popular Tanzanian rapper was arrested for releasing a song deemed insulting the government (AfricaNews, 2017). The in March 2017 released Kiswahili rap song named Wapo, does not mention Magufuli by name but questions the shrinking space of freedom of speech in Tanzania and speaks out critically about the country’s leadership.
Moreover, interfering of state officials exist in form of preventing successful investigative journalism in Tanzania by not letting journalists access concrete information on the misconduct within bureaucracy. The willingness of politicians and state officials to make this information available is often reduced to a minimum (Kasoma, 2000, p. 68). In Matumaini’s study, 85% of the respondents “said it is very difficult to obtain information from public officials” (2011, p. 239) and an interviewed NGO employee recounts that “for instance there were journalists, who we gave the grant, sometimes they have big difficulties to get the information from the government which they need for the article. You see, they interfere, they are not cooperating”.
Security situation Much as one cannot compare the physical danger faced by journalists in countries like Pakistan or drug trafficking Columbia to the situation in Tanzania, journalism in the East African country has remained a high-risk endeavour (Kilimwiko, 2009, pp. 158). Speaking even of a current increase of violations against press freedom and freedom of expression (MCT, 2016, p. 2), the Program Officer Press Freedom Violations at MCT reports:
“It has gone to the extent of kidnapping. Yes, kidnapping and even assaults. […] The extent has gone critical. […] The number of cases in the present that are against blog owners, even sharing information in social media, this number of cases of these violations has become a problem. So many people have been taking to court, so many are being questioned by police officers.” (Y. Mkinga)
Five years ago, in late 2012, the journalist D. Mwangosi was murdered, supposedly connected to his profession (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2017; MCT, 2012, p. 2). M. Islam explains, that it “is the only incident where I can say that it was the police. But other incidents you cannot say exactly if someone was attacked by the government forces”.
Relationships between political and journalistic agents Not only to governmental intervention should be drawn attention, but also to the relationship between journalists and politicians in general. Mass media reports politics, and in fact it is important to the functioning of democracy to inform the public about political decisions, actions and institutions. Therefore, media is supposed to provide checks and balances against abuse of positions and power when simultaneously enhancing democratic ideals and good governance (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 124). It is questionable how media can perform its duty when “journalists become friends with politicians in such a way that they are also politicians. They cannot write and they cannot be fair because of their friendship that they have created” (P. Mallimbo). Clearly summarizing the problem, C. Kayoka mentions: “I cannot say that this is a good or healthy relationship, because it often denies the masses to know the truth, because you try to hide certain information to prevent it to reach the community because you want to favour your party instead of public welfare”.
Furthermore, journalists’ autonomy is not only endangered by friendship to politicians or personal party preferences, but because journalism is seen as stepping stone by some people, meaning that “you find individuals sometimes, for instance today you find him being a journalist, but tomorrow he is a politician. Sometimes you hear that he has been appointed being the District Commissioner. So you start wondering if these were really journalists” (D. Kamanzi).
In addition, another reason for journalists to become friends with politicians is money and J. Marenga describes the current situation like this: “Politicians, they have their own interests. […] And sometimes they are even going down to their pockets, I mean deep down, and usually they have money to facilitate the media operations”. This phenomena appears especially during election time, when “it becomes extreme. So when you are reading papers or listening to TV shows, there is no objective on that anymore” (M. M. Melo).
Working conditions, education and professionalism of journalists Distracting the media from playing its role and corrupting the media environment with growing bribery (Matumaini, 2011, p. 243) works even more as most Tanzanian journalists are freelancers and a “[l]ack of pay or low pay makes freelancers vulnerable to corruption, since a hungry stomach knows no taboo” (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 150). The economic dependence becomes even more clear, when considering that many freelancers are paid below the monthly minimum wage of TZS 150.000 (56,2 euros) and may earn just TZS 20.000 (7,5 euros) per article (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 59; MCT, 2015, p. 9). It is difficult to cope with the role of a watchdog when one cannot take economically care of family members and oneself.
D. Kamanzi forges a link between level of education and payment of Tanzanian journalists: “They are not being paid much, because of their level of education”. Therefore, a lot of journalists in Tanzania are caught in a repeating cycle, because if one does not have money to pay university or training fees, he or she is not able to reach a certain level of education and skills, whereby the journalist will not be paid much for his or her work. This, on the other hand, leads to journalists who “have to find other ways to get money” (J. Marenga). “Some journalists are taking money from people to write stories” (P. Owere) and others, particularly qualified ones, leave journalism to become e.g. public relations practitioners to receive a better payment. As a result, skills in the media industry are even reduced (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 59).
The problematic of lacking education and sufficient training, depicts for some experts like M. M. Melo an even greater risk to journalists’ autonomy than governmental intervention: “I still believe the education issue has an impact. Even before we should complain about the shrinking space of freedom with what the President got something to do”. But why is there still a lack of education, even though, in recent years there has been a flourishing of media training institutions in Tanzania? J. Marenga mentions, that during colonialism and before liberalization “we had only very few training institutions in the country, but now we have a reasonable number for trainings. Some of them, you can get first degree, some of them second degree, some of them PhD degree”. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) offers degree programs for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Journalism, BA in Mass Communication, BA in Public Relations and Advertising and Master of Arts (MA) in Mass Communication (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 64). Moreover, the Open University and four other Tanzanian universities as well as colleges provide an opportunity to receive a form of journalistic training, certificates or diploma. Various organizations like MCT, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Deutsche Welle (DW) are also offering short-courses and workshops to practice journalism.
Why are there still experts speaking of missing analytical skills and a lack of investigative journalism? First of all, there always has been and there still is a clear urban approach of training programs because of an orientation towards the main academic resources which are located in the cities and mainly in Dar es Salaam (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 64; Sturmer, 2008, p. 155). Secondly, although there is currently an adequate number of training institutions, the lack of learning facilities, qualified trainers or serious curricula hinders positive outcome (Rioba, 2012, p. 30). Along these lines, P. Mallimbo mentions that “maybe the problem are the teachers. Still we have problems with people who are coming from the colleges and universities”.
Apart from that and congruent to Voltmer’s approach of “path dependency”, C. Kayoka holds past political systems responsible for the lack of professionalism by concluding:
“[F]or our journalists it’s a new thing, especially for those old editors who are used to reporting in socialism and this tradition has been going on. If you go through media reports most of them are not really analytical. It is about who said what, so only reporting what has been happening. They are not even doing a piece of analysis.”
Due regard must be paid also to various other factors which limit professional journalism in Tanzania. To name but a few, the above-mentioned problem of information access needs to be considered. Besides, journalism and in particular its investigative form is quite costly, time-consuming and highly risky, especially when investigating into official and private misconduct. Additionally, to cross-check all sources of their stories, there is a need of adequate resources and proper facilities which is missing in many cases (IREX, 2013, p. 407). Further, Kilimwiko (2009, pp. 142) enumerates the absence of legal protection for the whistle blower, a lack of commitment and ultimately again he goes down with the lack of investigative skills. Which brings us back to the subject of lacking knowledge, methods and skills.
Role perception and ethics Not only analytical, professional and investigative journalism is not possible without proper training, but “mentorship and training is [also] needed, because I believe journalists need to know their role in society. If they know their end goal and role, they can help stabilizing the country” (M. Melo). Being not alone with this opinion, lack of professional training gets blamed by many people for bad journalism in Tanzania. However, blaming all shortcomings on journalists would overlook other decisive factors “that would make it difficult even to the most committed professional to excel ethically in the Tanzanian context” (Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 149).
However, Tanzania, among other countries, practices a self-regulatory mechanism in media industry through Media Council of Tanzania which established a Code of Conduct for Media Practitioners, and in addition, regulates ethical matters (Ndumbaro, 2017, pp. 109). Existing Codes of Ethics are the afore-mentioned Code of Ethics for Media Professionals, Ethical Guideline, and Media Gender Code of Ethics. All three of them try to guide media ethics and professionalism. Nevertheless, Mr. Kayoka feels like “[journalists] could be aware of their role in society and democracy but the economy limits. […] We have a Code of Ethics, but one doesn’t get enough salary”. Besides, there is a law which restricts media’s opportunities to fulfil the watchdog role by limiting investigations and reports on the property holdings of public leaders (Public Leaders Code of Ethics Act, 1995; The Citizen, 2011). Furthermore, job security, working hours, retirement benefits, freelancer’s and field reporter’s physical safety, health services, working contracts, living conditions, scheme of service, insurance, promotion and annual increments and discrimination against female journalists are issues which matter and which are connected to journalistic accountability, credibility and quality (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 110; African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 10; Kilimwiko, 2009, p. 149).
Again, it is noticeable how economic factors, ethics, politics, society and education are intertwined, how they interact and determine each other. It has to be mentioned that there is neither great political effort to improve media freedom by taking care of appropriate and affordable training and working conditions nor to support forms of journalistic self-organization or labor union rights. By not improving journalists’ working conditions, the governmental interferes indirectly. Improved working conditions would lead to higher self-confidence, better understanding of their role, more time and money. Thereby, a more balanced ratio of resources could be caused, in turn, media freedom could be secured on a higher level.
Owners’ interferences and limitations P. Owere sees the problem of insufficient training in the rapid growth of the media industry during the 1990s: “I think, the training of staff didn’t play a big role. So in the end of the day, they picked whoever was there, whoever was calling himself a journalist. That’s why there are many newspapers with a lot of junk in it”. Agreeing, Kilimwiko (2009, p. 176) emphasizes media owners’ interests in recruiting untrained people, because these are the ones which are cheap and easy to manipulate. Even today, Mr. Melo feels like media owners are not interested in skilled staff and “don’t do proper trainings with their journalists”.
Generally, owners and their profit motive need to be considered as a threat to freedom of expression in media. Accordingly, P. Mallimbo expresses his opinion in the following way:
“[M]edia owners are not thinking about improving the payment of their employees, they are only interested in their instruments like cameras, their cars. They’ll be very bitter if you damage their working equipment, rather than insuring their workers or paying well. […] Health insurance is not there and the payment is very, very low. So, the working conditions … we might be having a very good newsroom, very modern with modern equipment, but money for the journalists, no.
Editors and media professionals rate owners’ methods and policies as an equal limitation to media freedom and journalists’ autonomy as governmental intervention. The policies, written or unwritten, may be in themselves more restricting and compromising editorial independence more than pressure of the government (Ndumbaro, 2017, pp. 89; African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 14; Kasoma, 2000, p. 68). True to the motto, you cannot bite the hand which feeds you, we keep returning to the point of economic dependence. Since, media houses can only survive with advertisements to guarantee a flow of income, owners’ policies may blacklist news, ideas and information of certain sources or compromise diversity for profits and other concerns (Rioba, 2012, p. 200; Matumaini, 2011, p. 238). Calling it the “illusion of press freedom”, Kilimwiko (2009, p. 18) even claims that all media owners do have one thing in common as “[a]lmost all are failing to strike a balance between their commercial interests and the utility aspect of information in a liberal political dispensation”. Since owners’ actions and interests are limited to financial supporters in terms of advertisers, in turn, journalists’ autonomy is limited by the business interests of the owners (African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 15; Rioba, 2012, p. 202). Dr. Ndumbaro defines is as follows: “It is a question of ‘money talks’. This has become the modern way of censorship, which has serious impacts of media freedom” (2017, p. 90). Recognizing the same problem, Mr. Kayoka relates, that “the policy of the owner, […], you can find that journalists became very careful. Very, very careful, what they shouldn’t have to be”.
But editors and media practitioners themselves cannot be completely absolved from the discretionary powers they have on self-censorship and prior restraint (Ndumbaro, 2017, p. 91; African Media Barometer, 2016, p. 31; Rioba, 2012, p. 93). By censoring and restraining free flow of information to the public, they inflict harm to the freedom of expression in media in the same way, either because of fear of persecution or of getting fired.
Importance of journalists and the media in Tanzania Balancing all kinds of these (ethical) challenges seems to be a typical part of being a journalist in Tanzania. Journalism practice is composed of and influenced by various factors and multifaceted challenges including “low pay, lack of education, corruption, media owners’ interference, politicians’ patronizing of media, lack of professionalism, journalists’ personal/selfish interests, advertisers interests and threats from government and influential individuals” (Rioba, 2012, p. 141). “But journalists played and play a big role. Those are the ones behind the scandals, they are the ones behind accountability issues in this country” (M. M. Melo). Despite the difficult legal environment, the confusing situation in which Tanzanian journalists are situated and a limited media freedom, resulting in an increasd power imbalance between journalists and state officials, it has to be borne in mind, that media plays a major role in Tanzania “in informing the public and in holding accountability. You can find big scandals that have been first brought to public by the media. So, media is playing a great role” (D. Kamanzi).
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Interviewed experts (personal on-site, April – August 2017)
- Charles Kayoka, Cultural journalist and i.a. lecturer for Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM)
- Dastan Kamanzi, Senior Knowledge Management Advisor at Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF)
- James Marenga, Political journalist and media lawyer
- Maxence Melo, Digital security as Managing Director of JamiiForums
- Mbaraka Islam, Director of Jamii Media Limited and freelancer as investigative journalist
- Paul Mallimbo, Program Officer Media Monitoring at the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT)
- Paul Owere, Employed cultural journalist at Mwananchi Communications Limited
- Yustus Mkinga, Program Officer Press Freedom Violations at the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT)
Tabitha Stimpfle: Tanzania. In: Michael Meyen (ed.), Mapping Media Freedom. LMU Munich: Department of Communication Studies and Media Research 2017. http://mappingmediafreedom.de/tanzania/ (access date)
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