By Kebba Jeffang
17 reporters of Foroyaa Newspaper Company have concluded a three months intensive training on journalism under the EU-UNESCO ‘Capacity Building Project for Media Houses’ at a ceremony held at the Gambia Press Union headquarters in Fajara, July 29.The Certificate in Journalism course was delivered by the Gambia Press Union School of Journalism, as an accredited training institute.
Sam Sarr, the Managing Editor of Foroyaa Newspaper said after three months of intensive training in journalism, his reporters are being certificated for their hard work in certificate in Journalism programme. He said journalists are not to write whatever they want to write but they need skills in doing so. He said the training has put his staff in a better position to report news in a more professional and ethical way.
“We are sometimes referred to as an opposition paper, whatever that means, but what we simply do is what is required of us by the Constitution as per section 207 which requires the media to hold the government accountable to the people. So what we are doing is to really question the policies, the activities of government officials or other public officials and sometimes the private sector.
That’s all we do. We cannot keep our mouths shut or hide our pens when injustice is actually being meted against some people. We have to report those facts. In your training you have learned how to ensure that you do not misinform the public by relying on information that is unreliable,” Sarr said.
He said journalists need skills on how to check information they are given to make sure the information that is going to be published or broadcast is reliable. He said that is why the management decided to send reporters to the Gambia Press Union School of Journalism to pursue a Certificate in Journalism.
He thanked the European Union through the implementers UNESCO for funding the training under its capacity building programme.
Hadija Jawara, deputy managing director of the GPU-SJ hailed the trainees for the active participation during the 3 months course. She said the training exposed the participants to modern news writing skills, menu writing, and radio news production. She said the assignments were tough but the trainees have measured up expectations.
Emil Touray, President of the Gambia Press Union said it is historic for the GPU-SJ to have a media institution awarding them a contract to building the capacity of their reporters.
He said prior to the training, most of the reporters have no background on how to produce radio news which is part of the training focus.
“During the cause of this training, not only were you taught on how to write for a newspaper, you were as well taught how to produce radio stuff. That alone is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Mohamadou Musa Njie, UNESCO Project Coordinator, said the role of the media is significant in the growth of democracy, citing that it is embedded in the Gambian Constitution.
“You are here to hold us accountable, you are here to write what is not right. You are our eyes, mouths and ears therefore your role is very important in the new Gambia and it is going to be more competitive,” said Njie.
He hailed Foroyaa for the way they conducted the training.
Malick Jones, deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Communication Infrastructure tasked the reporters to continue learning particularly on English Language. He said the working medium is English language so journalists should work on that to be able to comprehensively send their messages.
“This Ministry of Information, Communication will continue to support the media when we get to fora like the IPDC. It is a bi annual conference in Paris by raising our voice for more sponsorship and more capacity building programmes,” said Jones.