A good education, good health, considerable patience and determination-these essentials are shared by journalism with other professions.
But the journalists, besides possessing these endowments, must primarily have that instinct of discreet value for information, that “nose for news”, as it has been aptly expressed, without which he may be pursuing a calling for which he is not meant.
He should be the man who can read sermons in stones; who in the dullest incidents and topics can see first-rate copy lurking in unsuspected places.
That is the first of all qualifications which he should possess. Then, he must be a person who can put his whole personality in the assignment he is called upon to perform.
Art of Selecting the Matter
The most frequent mistake which a novice makes is to select such a theme as is pleasing to himself and then to write on that forgetting that journals are published not for benefit of writers but readers.
For a journalist, the chief art lies in selection. The clever journalists known by his ability to separate the chaff from the wheat; the human interest from the dull.
He will look on events and people not in regard to themselves but the manner in which they are likely to appeal to his readers.
Walking down the metropolis, you may notice a poorly-clad creature wandering along the gutter bearing a sandwich board on his shoulders. There is nothing particularly exciting about this beggar man as such.
But supposing you learn that the beggar is really a sportsman doing it for a wager, or a former leader fallen on hard times, the appearance of that ragged man suddenly has to you an entirely altered appearance.
You instinctively get him to tell you his life-story, and, unless you make a complete use of the chance offered, it is good for at least a quarter of a column for the page of your paper next morning with a suitable heading to herald it.
At least nine-tenths of your readers will be interested, for there is sympathy of a sort even in the elitist humanity.
Now, is it enough to have a “noise for news”. The journalist must have more than a literary bias-he must be able to dish up that incidents of the beggar according to the exact taste of his readers.
Topsy Turvy Life of Journalist
What chances is there for a competent man if he chooses journalism for his career? Naturally, in the present congested state of civilized activity, it is like other professions, already than ever, and there is, to quote an old maxim, plenty of room on the top.
In proportional to the close work, the pains that have to be taken to ensure originality and accuracy, and the anxious responsibility, to say nothing of the topsy-turvey kind of life which profession compels many men to have to live, journalism cannot be numbered as among the most lucrative of occupations.
Taste for Adventure
But to him who has a taste for the adventurous and a hatred f monotony, who feels a thrill of delight with his fingers, so to speak, at one end of the wire which brings all the world’s news first to him and his collegues while other men sleep,there is something really worthwile in putting up with many inconviniences if only for a short period.
In a big newspaper office there is to be obtained an education which not all the public schools, not all the universities, nor all the travel and book-learning can teach one.
Some men enter journalism; ism through the rank of reporter, rising through good work to doing “specials”, becoming political correspondent, and, afterwards-being exceptionally fitted through such wide and varied experience in gathering news in many parts of the world- are offered the post of editor.
Having once got an entrance into the profession, one will acquire by practice the very necessary ability of thinking quickly and orderly and putting his ideas speedily into literary form, evolving gradually his own mode of expression and style.
Practice Knowledge of Life
In the journalism of today practical knowledge of life is of great value. There is not much scope for the old-fashioned Leader-writer who has spent his life in the same office, comfortably producing political and social essays.
But there is plenty of opportunity for the man who can visualize a problem from a personal knowledge and observation.
The young man who would be a journalist must have courage. Many of a young man is frightened from the profession because it is said to be ‘precarious’; he prefers the security of the government service. But with courage, and such other qualities as it has been indicated, he has really little to fear…..”
The man or women who is going to be a success in journalism goes about his/her work in high spirits. He running a race with some of the keenest workers in the most active and most progressive’s of all the professions. The news has to be caught red-hot and served up before it has given off any of its heat.
He has to be a man full of enterprise and ideas, with unlimited powers of resources in the midst of series of disappointments. He must be a tactful when sent out to interview a celerity who hates to be subject of interview; he is frequently entrusted with confidential information which he is expected to keep back despite the temptation to blurt out.
He sometimes finds him self in possession of news which he is compelled to keep back either for personal reasons or for lack of confirmation, notwithstanding the tempting knowledge that such news, if allowed to go into his paper, would greatly augment its circulation.
The media in Tanzania have been criticized for taking sides in last year’s general elections, according to a recently released new report, the Year book on Media Coverage of 2020 General Elections.
The report jointly conducted by the University of Dar es Salaam’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Swiss Embassy in Tanzania, noted that most stories written during the elections favored the ruling party candidates.
The report also noted absence of researched and investigative election coverage, failure to question political parties’ election manifestos and candidates’ promises and provide few opportunities for the citizens compared to the government leaders.
Further, the report observed media failure to cover women voices despite the fact that more than 50 percent of the voters were women.
Presenting the report findings, a co-researcher Abdallah Katunzi, said more than 2,400 stories from 14 newspapers, 14 radio stations and five television stations from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar were monitored.
“Government-owned media such as Zanzibar Leo, ZBC TV, ZBC Radio, Daily News, Habari Leo, TBC Taifa; TBC One, dedicated 81% of their publications to the CCM candidate, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, compared to 26 percent for the main opposition candidate, Tundu Lissu,” he said.
Katunzi said the same situation was evident in Zanzibar where the CCM presidential candidate, Dr. Hussein Mwinyi received 69 percent coverage compared to 31 percent of the opposition Seif Shariff Hamad of ACT-Wazalendo.
“Other media outlets reported at least 60% to CCM against 59 percent to ACT-Wazalendo. In other words, the Zanzibar opposition presidential candidates had a better position compared to their Mainland counterparts,” he said.
He added Uhuru and Mzalendo newspapers gave 94 percent coverage to the CCM presidential candidate, Magufuli compared to 19 percent given to the opposition candidate, Lissu.
“The independent media covered the CCM (Magufuli) presidency with 64 percent compared to the Chadema (Lissu) presidential candidate 42 percent,” he said.
He said the overall coverage was largely based on events, with only 19 percent of publications being initiated by the media and journalists.
Katunzi said the media promoted the voices of the candidates with an unequal representation of the voters’ voice who were key players in the elections.
“Only 10 percent of the stories came from the ordinary citizens. Similarly, women’s sources did not show up in 20 percent of election-related stories,” he said.
The report also accuses the media of amplifying the voice of political parties and their candidates but ignoring public opinion.
The researcher said repression against the media, political situation during the election period as well as the lack of funding were among the reasons for what transpired.
He said most of the stories did not meet professional standards because of single sources.
Commenting on the report, the media stakeholders said there is still a challenge on election coverage, especially the 2020 general elections.
Bracing the event, the Executive Secretary of the Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission, Suleiman Abdulla Salim, said the media is a critical player in building a democratic and informed society that will make the right decisions.