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Journalists told not to use phones for covering events

Journalists told not to use phones for covering events
Elijah Alier, Managing Director of the Media Authority addressing media stakeholders in Juba on October 12, 2022. Credit//Daniel Garang Deng/TRC

South Sudan Media Authority has banned journalists from using mobile phones to capture events while on duty.

“If you are in an occasion, a high-level occasion, please, please don’t use the telephone,” it stated.

The media regulatory body said this is to minimize misunderstandings over the gadgets between security personnel and journalists.

He said only video and photography cameras, camcorders, and recorders are allowed for event coverage.

“These are the gadgets that you are expected to have as a journalist,” said Elijah Alier, Managing Director of the Media Authority.

He said this is to protect journalists from unnecessary questioning by the security apparatus.

Last year, the bodyguard of the Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng reportedly slapped a journalist while taking pictures of the VP using a phone during an event at Nyakuron Cultural Center in Juba.

“For your safety and for the comfort of what you are doing not to be interrupted whenever going to occasion, go with the media equipment, don’t go with the telephone,” Mr. Alier insisted.

He, however, said there is lee-way for some journalists to use the phone camera at the discretion of the event organizers.

“…you might be allowed by those people in occasion, but…we need to respect the protocol set for that occasion. If there is a reason you need to use telephone beyond reasonable doubt like when you streaming the news live and you cannot afford [media gadgets] as a media house, you better follow the normal procedures of asking permission before doing it.”

Oyet Patrick, President of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan, however, said mobile phones are essential necessities for modern journalism.

He stated that while mobile journalists may incorporate other portable devices like audio recorders, laptops, or DSLRs into their workflow, smartphones are at the heart of mobile journalism.

“I do live for the station for which I work and I do live on phone. The application is on phone and the quality is good…that is to tell you the importance of phone at this time,” he argued.

He encouraged journalists to be mindful of the environment they operate in before using the phone but insisted that “phone now is a very important tool for journalists all over the world, there are people making films totally using a phone.”