Tuesday , 31 January 2023
Latest account: 1150 journalists for 22 million people! Are there enough of them? Should the focus rather lay on quality than on numbers? The new media landscape of Madagascar is by now on the making, first of all through the assignment of the valuable press card, then, through the erection of a new leading bureau to the order of journalists, and then through the scheduled draft of a new Code of Communication. But how do the concerned journalists actually assess their own profession?

Reporter, good God, what a job!

The delivery of information globally happens to be badly perceived, firstly because of the generally inconvenient consequences of the action, and the unethical deviations observed in the collection and delivery processes. Whenever a notorious figure is to give his view on any issue, his credit on air basically grows, and his reliability and accuracy get famed to the point of being as looked up as those of a full time consultant, or an index. In Madagascar, it is the opposite. Speaking on air, having a say in a newspaper, appearing on TV, are a mere matter of money… “No, I actually do not ask to appear anywhere; still, journalists keep coming to me and expecting me to provide them with something from my own self every time. However, whenever appearing on television, someone from the station’s technical staff comes to tell you out how long you have and how much this time will cost you, generally very much”. As a result, whenever a famed figure comes across an unknown reporter attached to an alien station, asking for tariff rates happens to be a leading priority, no matter how inconvenient it might be. Fortunately those notorious figures nearly never run out of those answering something like: “…nothing, we are honored to have your willingness to enlighten us about this issue”.   
In this business, reporters regularly point out at tricksters framed for bringing the profession into disrepute. “They organize a redaction conference downtown at 8 o’clock every morning to exchange information on the potentially juicy events of the day “, protested a radio reporter. She undisputedly appeared offended especially because these wanna be reporters get away with declaring to be employed by some suburban radio station unheard of based who knows where in the outskirts of the capital city. The small envelop offered nowadays to journalists by broad daylight keeps fueling controversies and debates as well. Is it a fair allowance for fees and expenses or an impudent evidence of corruption?   
“There is no need to resort to hypocrisy. Those people who organize conferences knows well how attractive the event happens to be to any newsgroup, because no extra expenses has to be repaid to the reporters the later sends to cover conferences; as long as the content of the article is not dangerously altered, there is no scandal to dread. Sometimes, the covered event is so commercial by nature that the subsequent article will necessarily be an advertisement, for which the envelop as retribution is fully deserved “, argued a press journalist. Ethics are however not always respected for so much, especially when the development of the event has to rule the development of the covering article. Reporters worth the title they hold, have to cover some social themes. “Unfortunately, money and untold incentives repeatedly lurk behind these projects or groups dying for appearing in the news, hence their need for covering from reporters and their newsgroups”, analyzed a communication consultant. “Yes, we are eager to compensate journalists, but the single problem is that, when we invite twenty of them, no less than fifty show up” declared a public relations official.   
The assignment of journalist professional card is an opportunity to clean this mess up. 200 demands out of 1350 have been turned down. Yet, the operation does not pledge the complete disinfection of the profession. Claiming a press card can easily become a done deal with a background of secretary or accountant, then, by working 3 years long for a newsgroup as reporter. Too bad that driving cars over 3 years is no pledge for getting driving licenses. The good news come next: the Commission finally decided to integrate web reporters working for locally based companies delivering information, whether the delivery of information is their purpose or not. During the transitional period, only two web journalists were endowed with press cards with the minister’s best regards. One of them is a reporter running his weblog very supportively towards the ruling power of that time, and the other, a public relations official and editor in chief. Those were the single online reporters ever rewarded for their action by happenstance very favorable to the ruling power.   
But how necessary a professional card actually proves to be to someone working as reporter in Madagascar? “Yes, access to official events will be denied to you. Your ID card might not prove enough to bring you into the presidency or the prime minister’s headquarters”, answered a journalist on air. His colleague from the written press does not appear as so dramatic: “Our newspaper is not unknown to them. I believe it to be just as so important to be acknowledged as reporter by a minister as by a farmer, it is not a problem”. Reporters specialized in the assessment and delivery of business and economic information is certainly not badly pressed by any urgent need of a press card, and will probably never be: “I have been around for more than 15 years, and I have never been in need of anything like a professional card. You cannot expect a card to make a better reporter of you, can you? This is a matter of your own professionalism, your network and your love of the job”. In the end, turning reporter is more of a vocation than a simple job, is it not? Professional press cards and positions in newsgroups led by major bosses are little more than details with near irrelevant effect on what someone happens to be made of.