By Ramatoulie Jawo.
The Media Council of the Gambia (MCG), with funding from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held a one-day training for 20 journalists on election reporting.
The MCG is an independent self-regulatory body for the media in The Gambia. Its role is to protect the credibility of the media, monitor, record, promote, and ensure adherence to the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Code of Ethics.
The training aimed to empower journalists and news presenters with the skills they need to contribute to holding credible and peaceful elections through responsible journalism.
Ms. Isatou Keita, Vice President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), said in her opening speech that the media plays a critical role in informing citizens and holding those in power accountable.
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“As we approach the upcoming elections, it is important that journalists can report on the electoral process professionally and ethnically. Gambia Press Union (GPU) is committed to promoting excellence in journalism and upholding the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. We recognize the important role that the media plays in promoting peace, democracy, and good governance in our country,” she said.
Ms. Keita urged journalists to work together to ensure that the media plays a constructive role in promoting peaceful, free, and fair elections in the country.
“We must remember that the media is not just a messenger but an integral part of the democratic process,” she said.
Mr. Babucarr Cham, Chairperson of the Media Council, said millions of people around the globe depend on the media for information, especially during elections.
“When the media scrutinises the electoral process and informs the general public, we can recall that in the 1990s many African countries, though unprepared, welcomed multi-party democracy, and since then elections have become more competitive and, in many cases, generated tension and violence,” he told the participants.
Mr. Cham said that over the past 30 years, many African countries have experienced election-related violence. He added that in some cases, the media has played a role in fueling this violence, especially digital media.
Claude Kondor, political advisor to the ECOWAS representative, said the training was timely as the country prepares for the upcoming mayoral and chairmanship elections.
“The training focuses on promoting credible and peaceful Municipal elections in the Gambia through responsible Journalism by raising the level of Journalistic professionalism among the media actors in the Gambia. And to achieve this, there is a need for capacity building on Gambia Media practitioners in key areas of Journalists to perform their role effectively and efficiently,” he said.
During the training, participants learned how to gather information, write political opinion editorials on election-related issues, the Local Government Act, and gender-sensitive reporting.