By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Sheriff Bojang Jnr the Gambia Press Union President underscored the need for active investigative Journalism in the country.
The Press Union President who was addressing 20 Journalists who participated in a five day Investigative Journalism Training, cited the earlier quotation made by the Trainer from South Africa Raymond Joseph that ‘The Gambia is open to business and so is open to corruption’. Therefore, he sees the need for active Journalism in the Country.
Mr. Bojang Jr. said as the country is experiencing a thriving economy, then it demands active journalism. He expressed the belief that there is no better time to conduct the training on investigative of journalism than now.
According to the GPU president, participants were carefully selected and he urged them to share the knowledge they gained with others.
“We expect that when the crowd disappears, we will see a difference in your work on the radio, print and television,” he stressed.
He said journalists are the link between the government and the governed and participants owe it to the public to do the right job.
“You are the hope of the GPU and we believe you will make us proud. Your being here is not a mistake and it will turn out to be a success story,” he assured.
South African investigative journalism trainer Raymond Joseph challenged the participants to share their knowledge by at least each one teaching one method in the newsroom.
“Remember what I said, this is not the end but the beginning. What we have learnt, take it to the newsroom. What we have learned including the fact-checking – each one teach one,” he reiterated.
Ebrima Sillah, Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, said the training is paramount especially to community journalists because of their frequent local language way of communication. He hailed the Press Union for the initiative towards its members in attaining basic tenets of professional training.
“Throughout the world, the work of investigative journalists has caused tremendous counter-balance regarding the narratives,” adding that, “The work of the journalists and how they conduct and comport themselves in the way they investigate matters have always interest governments.”
He noted that investigative journalist helps policy makers and those critical stakeholders in taking immediate action.
The Information Minister noted that when good investigative journalists do their work governments and those that are affected by the report always have to do something because leaving it unattended may cause serious issues in society.
He advised Journalists not to use the trade to blackmail others but rather use it towards seeking truth and truth telling.
Thomas Volk, resident representative of KONRAD Adenauer Stiftung (KAS Foundation) said “It’s about strengthening democracy, that is why we partnered with National Youth Council and Gambia Press Union to be able to have strong democracy through opinions and strong and confident journalists.”
He noted that as a German political Foundation which runs across Africa, they started their activities in The Gambia in 2008 where they supported some projects on migration and the economy. He said it’s now time for them to support democracy.
He expressed commitment to expand their work across The Gambia through programmes to discuss issues that matter. He urged journalists to be fair and just to government regarding the democratization process. However, he said it is crucial for any country to have critical journalists.
The government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh said the role of journalists in the new dispensation is paramount. He said now is the time that Journalists will not have to worry about Mile II Prison or being sacked, but he also called on journalists to be honest and consistent in their work, saying “the news you vehicle must also be accurate” and not to be borne out of sensationalism.
Abdoulie Sey, speaking on behalf of the participants said the training provided a unique opportunity to learn the new skills including identification of fake pictures. Sey cited an example where a fake picture had been circulating on social media for years without realising so until participants applied their skills on it.
Investigative Journalism many believe, requires skills, resources and documents that can be used to prove claims.
Certificates were given to all 20 Journalists who went through the five-day training.