The media regulatory body, Independent Media Commission (IMC), in Sierra Leone has suspended The Watchman, a privately-owned newspaper based in the capital Freetown for what the IMC described a “misleading and mischievious” headline. The newspaper is to be out of circulation until November 11, 2013.
According to the MFWA’s monitor in the country, the newspaper in its October 11 edition carried a front-page story captioned: “Al-Shabab to attack Youyi Building.” According to the IMC, the story “led to the disruption of the normal administrative operations of the various ministries, departments and agencies housed at the said building on Friday, October 11, 2013”.
The IMC, in a communiqué, accused the newspaper of using its “misleading and mischievous” headline, “as an attempt to cause alarm and panic amongst peaceful citizens who at the time visited the Youyi building on official business.”
Reports from the MFWA’s monitor in the country confirmed that the body of the story did not match the headline.
The IMC has however, given the newspaper an option to appeal against the penalty.
In as much as the MFWA advocates for freedom of expression, we also urge journalists in Sierra Leone to uphold and adhere to the code of ethics of the profession.
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Kwame Karikari (Prof)
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