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U.S. Embassy Office of Public Affairs Officials’ visit to UTPC, in Mwanza.

us embassy

UTPC Executive Director, Mr. Abubakar Karsan giving a full briefing on the organisation to the US Embassy's Public Affairs Department Director, Ms. Maurer Powel in Mwanza recently.On her left is Ms. Rehema Kalinga

Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC) staff had played host to a delegation of two officials from the Dar es Salaam-based U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Department on 23rd July, 2014.

Following opening remarks by UTPC Executive Director, Mr. Abubakar Karsan, Ms Maurer Powel, a Public Affairs Department’s Director, was introduced to the Organization’s history, vision, mission, structure, values, roles and responsibilities.

Looking conspicuously impressed with the briefing, particularly regarding UTPC’s fascinating objectives and results registered between 2011 and 2013, Ms Powel said her office was to contemplate how it could possibly work in partnership with UTPC once again.

She couldn’t go into minute details, however, but simply hinted that currently her country’s interest is hinged on organizing what she called USA Show Mission, in which photos of USA - sponsored projects undertaken in the country and related activities will be displayed.

To that effect, she advised UTPC to start collecting such materials as photos and other relevant documents which reflect whatever had been accomplished in the past, with funding from either U.S. Government itself or Public Affairs Department (formerly United States Information Services).

She also reaffirmed that her office would possibly provide UTPC with several copies of books, as requested by the Organization during the brief talks, held at UTPC premises.

Among other things, the U.S. Embassy, through the United States Information Services (USIS) then, played a pivotal role in sponsoring an Extra-Ordinary Members General Meeting (MGM), held in Arusha on 20th -21st September, 1996.

Widely viewed as media industry landmark in the Tanzania’s history, it was during such an occasion, graced by Second Phase Government President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, that UTPC was officially incepted, with 12 founding Press Clubs in attendance, all of which were established with the USIS’ moral, material and financial assistance.

Besides 23 Press Clubs which are fully operational all over United Republic of Tanzania -21 on the Mainland and two in the Isles – currently TPC boasts 27 Press Clubs in total, in addition to four other founded in the newly- formed regions of Njombe, Katavi, Geita and  Simiyu.

Ms Powel, accompanied by her office’s staff by the name of Rehema Kalinga, could not promise anything but said she was equally of the opinion that UTPC should start developing a proposal for kind of reciprocal exchange visits for Tanzania Press Clubs’ leaders and their US counterparts. She stressed that even individual Press Clubs members can apply for such an opportunity.

In the end, the UTPC Secretariat, led by Mr. Karsan, furnished Ms Powel with a list of some serious challenges facing Tanzania’s media industry including partisan journalism, media owners dancing to the tune to the tune of either the government or its organs and unethical reportage, compounded by the journalists’ unbearably difficult working conditions.

Others are limited editorial independence, unreliable, erratic payments to freelancers, a string of media outlets being owned and run by a single person and journalists operating in an increasingly volatile and hostile environment in the wake of the on - going socio - economic and political liberalization process in the country.

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