“The government is watching – don’t step on their toes” : An investigation of the press freedom and the working conditions for journalists in Tanzania
Abstract: According to reports from Reporters sans frontiers and Freedom House, the freedom of the press has declined during the recent years in the sub-Saharan country Tanzania. Using the human rights reports as an entry point, this study set out to investigate the working conditions for journalists in the capital de facto of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. An important aim was to dig deeper and show the local and culturally specific conditions. The study supports that the press freedom, as well as the working conditions have declined during the last years for the journalists in Dar es Salaam. However, the study also shows that the new laws and government measures, described by the human rights reports as reducing the press freedom, is not considered by every journalist to be negative. The challenges differ among the corps of journalists, as their values of journalism differs. The greatest denominator among the informants was the high-degree of journalistic interventionism, directed at helping the society. In some cases, this took form as a practice of development journalism. The strong connections to the local community, the country and the religious affiliations are thought to contribute to these values. For journalists in private media, the press freedom was found to be the most acute problem, while for journalists in state-owned media it was economic issues. The press freedom was connected to the perceived job autonomy, and senior journalists and journalists working for international media were found to be more autonomous. Self-censorship was used by many in the private media sector as a tool to avoid both bureaucratic harassment from government, as well as violent repercussions. The main challenges included new restricting laws, economic issues which lead to the practice of brown envelopes, the parliament being located in Dodoma, gender-issues, scared sources and the advancement of social media. Theories and earlier research evolving from the values of journalism and journalism in Africa were used as tools to understand and compare with. The results are based on fieldwork conducted during a period of two months in the beginning of 2019, with qualitative interviews held with journalists in the city of Dar es Salaam.
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