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MOBILE PHONES, TO USE OR NOT DURING NEWS COVERAGE

Mr. Patrick Oyet, President of the UJOSS, Juba South Sudan


On Wednesday October 12th.2022, South Sudan’s Media Authority had a press conference which some of my colleagues (journalists) and I attended.


One thing that I took note of was that there were two online media using mobile phones to cover the press conference.

Juba Echo used a mobile phone to broadcast the press conference live on its Facebook page; The Mail also used a mobile phone for the coverage.


The Managing Director of Media Authority, Mr. Elijah Alier Kuai announced that the institution he heads was commencing accreditation for national journalists.


Upon completing the announcement, as usual, journalists were given time to ask questions, one of the questions asked was regarding continuous rejection of use of mobile phones to cover meetings (functions/activities) at the presidency and what Media Authority was planning to do about it.


In response to the question, Mr. Alier said, “…….if you are in a high level occasion please don't use the telephone, if you want to use the telephone, please take permission, you might be allowed by those people at that particular occasion…..”


My understanding of Mr. Alier’s statement is that;


1. It was more or less like an “advisory opinion.” It’s non-binding.


2. The opinion is only in regard to coverage of events at the presidency or that, which involves presidency.


3. The opinion provided for “exception” (…if you want to use telephone, take permission…)


There is currently no law that prohibits the use of mobile phones for newsgathering, program production etc in South Sudan.


There is also no policy that prohibits the use of mobile phones for newsgathering, program production, live broadcast etc I still have no knowledge of any other South Sudan’s government official or their security personnel blocking journalists from using mobile phones for their media work (filming, audio recording etc) except for the presidency so, there has been a practice in the presidency of blocking journalists from using mobile phones for coverage.


This brings me to the question; mobile phones, to use or not during news coverage. The answer to this question in my opinion is in the affirmative.


As a journalist who uses mobile phones for live broadcast and newsgathering, I will continue to use it however, when it comes to covering evens at the presidency or where the presidency is involved, I will use the “exception” provided by the Media Authority which is “…ask for permission…”

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