Despite recently reported drops in press freedom in the country, the commitment by the president of Tanzania to fight corruption has created new opportunities for investigative journalism in Tanzania. The remark was made on 24 July at Ohio State University, by 2017 Study of the US Institute (SUSI) scholar and Tanzania Media Foundation Executive Director, Ernest Sungura, while presenting a paper on media systems and journalism practice in Tanzania. The presentation was made to scholars from 16 different countries and members of Ohio University International School of Journalism.
Mr. Sungura was responding to a question on the state of investigative reporting in the country given its drop from 71st to 83rd position in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index (WPFI). His presentation went on to refer to a speech by Professor Patrick Lumumba from Kenya as well as international media coverage that applauded the president of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, as an exemplary African leader who does what he commits himself to do.
“Such coverage and views by people outside the country support the view that Tanzania has been blessed with a leader committed to take action on any wrong doing, including that which is revealed by the investigative journalists. Therefore, in my opinion, this is a great opportunity for investigative reporting to continue taking place despite the country’s drop in press freedom,” said the TMF Executive Director.
He also cited the example of Jamhuri, a privately-owned weekly newspaper which President Magufuli applauded for investigative reporting that prompted him to take action on corruption at the ports in Dar es Salaam. Such willingness to act immediately on what has been revealed in the press shows that media interested in accountability has an opportunity to address even more issues of public concern through evidence based reporting.
SUSI is a competitive exchange programme which attracts scholars from different countries across the world and enables them to pursue research projects and develop curriculum related to media and journalism. Mr. Sungura is one of 16 scholars on the 2017 SUSI programme. The first scholar from Tanzania since the programme hosted at Ohio University began more than eight years ago, Mr. Sungura’s work while there will focus on media business, sustainability and transformation. The 16 2017 scholars were selected from 100 applicants from all over the world. For more information on SUSI, visit http://scrippsjschool.org/iij/susi.php.