Heird, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Banjul has urged journalists
to commit themselves to the truth.
Ms Heird made these remarks at the launching of 12-week media training for young Gambian journalists funded by the U.S. Embassy, at Insight Training Centre on Wednesday 13 December 2017.
“I urge each of you to commit yourselves to the truth, and to keep this commitment at the forefront of your minds as you complete your training,” she told the trainees.
She called on them to work hard, take good notes, ask good questions, and learn all they could.
She noted that while the government’s role was to create laws that promote the free exchange of ideas and protect journalists in their quest to report the news, journalists themselves have an important responsibility of their own which is to report the truth fairly and without exaggeration.
She highlighted that a new phrase has come to the world’s attention lately – “fake news.”
She said that it is important to understand that fake news is not any report you disagree with, but, instead, it is reporting that was presented as true, but was in fact untrue.
She told trainees that the training would equip them on how to distinguish fake information from the truth, and how to report that truth fairly, credibly and accurately so that their reporting is not “fake news,” but the truth.
He pointed out that the goal of the training program was to teach young journalists how to investigate and report the truth.
She thanked Ismaila Ceesay for organizing the training course, and the staff who would share their expertise with the participants.
She remarked that she was struck with admiration by how far The Gambia has come since the presidential elections over one year ago.
She observed that during Jammeh’s regime journalists were not free to report the truth, or to criticize the government and under harsh media laws, adding that reporters were arrested and imprisoned without charge.
In the “new Gambia” freedom of information is respected, saying reporters are free to ask the tough questions, investigate the difficult issues, and report on the real challenges that face the country.
This freedom of expression is a fundamental right that is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the U.S. Constitution, she divulged.
She congratulated the Government of The Gambia for its new-found support for freedom of expression and of the press.