Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh has urged the Veteran Journalists Union (VeJU) to mentor the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and other media institutions in the country.
He made this statement while giving the keynote address, on behalf of President Ernest Koroma, at the official launch of VEJU yesterday, on the theme “Enhancing Media Practice as a Responsible and Respectable Profession”.
Vice President Foh also urged VeJU members to work with SLAJ in a bid to pass on knowledge they had acquired over the years to younger journalists, adding that mentors open doors to new connections, providing guidance.
“We must be guarded and guided not to infringe on others …because as journalists we must at all times provide accurate or undiluted information to the public,” he said, adding that while “we recognise and value SLAJ, we also hold the view that mentorship is also to guide the young ones.”
Chairman of VeJU, Mr. Christo Johnson, said they are not competing with any media institution, but would complement, mentor and enhance the performance of all exiting media institutions, including SLAJ.
“VeJU advocates for ethical standards so that journalists will remain responsive to their readers, listeners and viewers, in essence affectively responsive to their responsibilities,” he stressed, noting that young practitioners still need practical orientation on the job.
He said VeJU was established in 2013, but that due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus plans to launch were interrupted and the event put on hold, adding that they also joined well meaning institutions, including the government, in the fight against the virus.
Johnson said membership of VeJU was open to journalists who have spent at least 25 uninterrupted years as journalists and have attained the age of 60 years, adding that the criterion was not discriminatory but a prerequisite to ensure that they draw from the expertise of serious professional veterans.
Independent Media Commission chairman, Ambassador Alieu Kanu, noted that in the history of journalism in Sierra Leone and the world there was nothing like Veteran Journalists Union, thus describing the event as “a momentous occasion.”
He urged VeJU to mentor, teach and train young journalists on the ethics of the profession, as journalism is noble.
“VeJU together with SLAJ will assist in the regulation of journalism in the country,” noting that VeJU is not a rival to the SLAJ, but rather should complement efforts by the latter in mentoring young journalists.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Cornelius Deveaux, said the theme was suitable at a time when journalists are desirous to enhance their profession.
“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism,” he said and added that factual and accurate information are the basics of good journalism and that VEJU could serve as reference for good practice for government and the Independent Media Commission.
He further said that journalists should earn the trust of the public by printing and broadcasting according to the code of ethics prescribed by the IMC.