I am told that the national broadcaster, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, is airing events of national importance live these days.
I cannot confirm this as I have been doing something that not many people in the media would admit to doing from time to time. I have been on a media fast. Therefore, any news of TBC’s performance as our public broadcaster is largely hearsay on my side since about a week or more ago.
Information overload is the reason for the fast, in case you are wondering. After a long and intensive period of reporting and opining on current affairs I decided to take a break and avoid the 24-hour news cycle for a number of days. It may look as though people who work in media don’t need holidays and they are ‘ever ready’ but this is not the case at all.
People need time to rest and focus on other things that are important in life other than work. I am one of those people.
Tanzania’s being in the news so much lately has been wonderful in many ways, but also perhaps a little tiresome in the end. As much as I try to keep up with current affairs, I have other interests to read about and obligations to attend to that require my attention.
So after the end of our national period of mourning it was good to finally take a bit of time “off” of media and peruse what other people and other places have been producing in terms of content.
Social media is also part of this media fasting, of course. Perhaps even the most important part of the media fast. At least with traditional media in the form of broadcast and other digital platforms, there is a cycle that has a particular rhythm.
Content is produced and released then updated according to a schedule. For instance, most of us who still watch the news programmes on old television tend to do so at their set times: in the morning so that we can find out what happened, and in the evening to find out what more happened after the morning news.
Some are lucky enough to also have lunch breaks that coincide with news programmes — usually radio programmes — but this is not the majority of workers. I think that by end of day before going off to bed most of us have checked out what’s going on and are satisfied that we are updated on current affairs that interest us.
Social media however doesn’t sleep, literally. The technology behind it means that there is always a conversation on some news no matter what the time.
Social media need not wait for repeats, there is always content as people talk to each other across small and vast distances and across time zones. This is rather great because you can always be up to date. It is also really terrible because you can always be up to date… which is actually exhausting.
One of the perils of being associated with journalism is that sometimes folks in your life actually expect you to be like their personal social media in a sense. They might ask you about current affairs as though you totally know what’s up all the time. There you are out and about enjoying a lovely ice-cream and then bam! someone asks you what you think of the news, of the biggest happenings at the moment.
First of all: who knows? As part of my media fast I have decided to give my Head of State President Samia Suluhu Hassan a full 100 days in office before I venture opinions. And in that time there is still plenty to watch and read and learn about with regards to various causes close to my heart as well as world news in general. I do love the news just as much as anyone else.
I am still getting a bit of news from time to time anyway. I do know that Parliament sessions have been broadcast live from Dodoma even though I haven’t actually watched them.
There are a number of other live programmes too that have been broadcast that look very interesting and that I hope to follow up on eventually. World news is as it always is: full of shocking news and developments, as well as wonderful uplifting stories.
One such is that Earth Day this year will be celebrated on April 22. I am hoping that it will be a good time to focus on issues of recycling, sustainability and plastics. The last issue in particular, plastics, is one that affects us all and it is of great interest to me.
In the meantime, the national broadcaster Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation is airing events of national importance live these days. I hear good things. Let’s see.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]