Let’s heed the call on avoiding hate speech

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The three-day training of journalists on how to cover and report elections, underway at the Baobab Hotel, is a step in the right direction.

It is so because through such training activities, journalists of this country will have their skills honed and cultured on how to cover and report highly-sensitive issues and matters like national elections.

Election coverage, especially, needs tactfulness and brave reporting as electioneering is always bedeviled with harsh remarks and hate speech, from mainly leaders and supporters of political parties.

So covering and reporting on elections need reporters with an objective mindset, and thorough knowledge of how to sieve what is essential and fundamental to public consumption from what is orientated towards causing trouble.

Therefore, journalists reporting on elections must be well cultured, and disciplined in disseminating remarks made by politicians and supporters of leaders and political parties.

The director and co-publisher of this paper is right in calling on journalists to guard against disseminating hate speech, in their reports of especially elections.

As he stated, “As journalists, we should avoid reporting hate speech and any remarks that will create problem for the society, since that will tarnish the image of the Gambia media and practitioners.”

It is very true that hate speech and false allegations are recipes for trouble in society, especially dangerous during national elections.

Examples of such happenings are all over Africa and other parts of the world. Rwanda is a case in point, where more than 800,000 deaths were registered in 100 days (between April and June 1994) during the political crisis that ensued in that country after the death of former President Habyarimana, who was hot down from a plane on 6 April 1994.

So let’s be careful and pay heed to avoiding hate speech.  Let us always be professional and stand ready to get the facts about an issue so that the report will be credible and sacrosanct.

Let us also be factual and accurate in our reporting, and let our reports be balanced and devoid of sentiments.

“Unbalanced reports always attract criticism and put the press and journalists into disrepute.”

Pap Saine