The Gambia Press Union with funding from the United Nations Endowment Fund will on Monday, 19th August 2019 begin a ten-day training on investigative journalism for twenty journalists.
The participants, drawn from both print and broadcast media across the country, will undergo extensive training on corruption and financial reporting.
The training will be conducted by an international investigative journalism trainer in a bid to position the Gambia media and journalists to effectively fight corruption in all its forms.
According to a press statement from the GPU, the training aims to strengthen investigative journalism in order to position the media and journalists to effectively contribute to efforts to strengthen democracy and sustainable development in The Gambia.
Once a vibrant branch of journalism in the country, the practice of investigative journalism has over the years been on the decline, if not a tradition long gone. This is attributed to a number of factors. There are laws and administrative codes that not only bar public servants from disclosing information to the public in general, but there are also risks of harsh punishment, including lengthy prison sentences, arising from publication of information deemed politically sensitive. Moreover, there are almost unbearable financial implications for both news media houses and individual reporters.
However, the most prominent factor is the lack of adequate capacity and competences to take up investigative journalism. The reporters do not have the essential know-how on investigative reporting.
Until 2013, there was no formal school for the training of journalists. The GPU School of Journalism, now Media Academy for Journalism and Communication, is the first such centre.
The University of The Gambia set up a school of journalism the following year. Journalism education in the country is therefore in its infancy. Reporters signed up for the practice without prior training or orientation. Ad-hoc training programmes focused on imbuing skills in basic journalism courses without specialisation.
Regularly, therefore, the Gambia Press Union has been approached by its members and media organisations to train journalists on investigative journalism.
In response, the GPU with the support from partners in 2017 rolled out the first-ever training on investigative journalism, in collaboration with the University of The Gambia for two months. The training was followed by, in May 2018, another similar one with more focus on practical skills and tools required for investigative reporting.
Moving from the fundamentals of investigative reporting, the GPU through a two-year project funded by the United Nations Endowment Fund (UNDEF) is organising a ten-day investigative journalism training with a focus on corruption and financial investigation. The training is designed to equip the participants on how to investigate corruption and financial issues.