Assembly seeks new approach from the media in parliamentary reporting


17-October-2012

The meeting between the media committee and the chief editors of SBC and Seychelles Nation

How the national media can make coverage of Assembly deliberations more interesting, the need for journalists to seek and pick different angles and change their style of reporting on Assembly matters, were but some of the issues raised during the meeting on Monday afternoon between the media committee and the chief editors of the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Linda Rosalie, and of Seychelles Nation newspaper, Robert Andre.

The dialogue, the first with the two media managers, forms part of a series of meetings the Assembly committee is holding with journalists at media houses with the aim of seeking to improve the quality and raise the standard of reporting on Assembly deliberations.

The Assembly’s media committee is chaired by the leader of government business Marie-Antoinette Rose and the deputy chair is the leader of the opposition in the Assembly David Pierre. Assembly members Chantal Ghislain, Maria Payette-Marie, Galen Bresson, Sylvianne Valmont and Nicole Barbe also sit on the committee.

Among the most pertinent issues that the committee brought to the attention of the media managers is the Question Time session, which it believes members’ questions are not being given the importance they deserve and members are not receiving enough credit from the media for their work.

Ms Rose pointed out that the work of the MNAs do not stop after the sittings on Tuesdays but they work a lot more than that and people in their constituencies need to know more  about the work their elected members are doing in the Assembly.

While respecting the media’s independence to report only what it deems newsworthy, Ms Rose pointed out that the two parties need to come to an understanding and be able to work better together.

“I believe journalists can better help and support the Assembly in its work which just like the media is aimed at better educating and informing the public,” Ms Rose pointed out.

Ms Rosalie explained the various constraints the SBC faces with regard to Assembly coverage and these include lack of manpower and equipment.

But she stressed that in recent months the SBC has increased air time for Assembly broadcasts and programmes.
She also pointed out that the corporation has recently acquired new equipment which is allowing it to carry out live broadcasts of Question Time sessions on both radio and television at the same time, thus increasing coverage of Assembly deliberations. This in fact started on Tuesday this week.
 
But Ms Rosalie admitted though that editing Assembly deliberations for news purposes remains at the journalists’ discretion to pick out what he or she believes is newsworthy.

The same issue was also emphasised by Mr Andre. He pointed out that when reporting on Assembly matters journalists’ focus remains on the news that comes out of the deliberations and not on the members of parliament.

But he stressed that the journalists always put the report in its context and relate each issue raised to the Assembly member concerned.

Mr Andre also noted that the Assembly can always make its contributions by submitting for publication in the newspaper reports on issues it deemed the public need more in-depth education and explanation on.

He even suggested that a regular page in the Nation be dedicated to just that.
Mr Pierre noted that while he understands the constraints both media houses face, he still believes journalists should produce quality and up to standard and balanced reports of Assembly deliberations.

Both editors pointed out that proper training of journalists in parliamentary reporting remains a constraint, an issue the Assembly media committee said it is studying ways in which it could help.

But while the committee believes in having one or two journalists specialise in parliamentary reporting, the media managers believe with the shortage of manpower this is not feasible.

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