SENIOR Somali journalists have been meeting in Nairobi for a two day
conference co-hosted by National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), writes Dennis
Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
The conference is a first for the media in the war-torn country. It brings together some 50 senior Somali media executives, reporters and editors from south-central and Puntland, and is held under the banner themeÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œProfessional journalism: responsibility in a situation of violence and insecurityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
Somali government ministers, members of Somali parliament, the IFJ General Secretary and the International Trade Union Confederation are attending the conference.
Kenya's Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka challenged the Somali Media to look for "commons that unite the country – more than the divisions – so as to be part of reconciliationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
"However, do not be cowed from exposing what is wrong, but please also suggest a way out. Remember it is your country too, I know there are lines that must be drawn in the practice of journalism but there must be bridges too for patriotic media," Kalonzo said.
Omar Faruk Osman, the Secretary General of NUSOJ, challenged journalists to rise above partisan affiliations and focus on improving the role of the media in ending the war and rebuilding Somalia.
"For how must we remain unethical, for how long must we use the sacred tools of journalism to advance war? We must seek our place as a fourth estate and debate openly to ensure that we get Somalia back on its feet, long before we call for international assistance, letÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s gain the courage to say it as it is, our politicians must provide us with security, the militia groups must protect us and we must play our part as midwives of peace."