Tanzanians support critical free press, commend its performance, but want less negative reporting

Free speech

A majority of Tanzanians support a critical and independent news media, but that support has weakened as more citizens express a desire for less negative news reporting, according to the latest Afrobarometer survey.

Two-thirds of Tanzanians say the media should constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption, and a majority say the media should report any views and ideas without government control. But on both issues, support is significantly lower in 2014 than it was in 2012.

Tanzanians also express satisfaction with effectiveness of the media’s performance of its watchdog role, and a majority express confidence in reliability of news reports.

Even so there has been a sharp increase since 2012 in the proportion of Tanzanians expressing concern about the perils of too much negative reporting and support for government control.

These results come amidst public debate about state’s growing infringement of space for critical independent speech and dissent. Tanzania will likely have its first-ever freedom of information act approved by the Parliament this year after more than 5 years of delays in finalizing its drafting by the government. A Statistics Act, passed by Parliament in March 2015, has been criticized for imposing restrictive conditions on the use of official statistics, spurring concerns that an equally restrictive freedom of information act might impinge on individual and media freedoms.

Download the full press release