To radio stations: ‘Reading newspaper stories is lazy journalism’

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The practice of reading newspaper stories on air by radio stations in the country as theirs is unethical, unprofessional, lazy journalism and lack of creativity, a media consultant has said. 

“It deprives the newspaper publishers revenue and violates their intellectual property rights,” Ebou Waggeh said at the end of 18-day training for 20 community radio broadcasters. He was one of the lead trainers. 

The training, funded by the national office of UNESCO in The Gambia, focused on theoretical and practical skills in radio programme production, interview techniques and technical maintenance among others.

Mr Waggeh, who is also a documentary filmmaker, said the community radio broadcasters, after undergoing the training, are now expected to add value to the information they find in daily newspapers.

They are expected to follow up the newspaper stories as tips and develop their own version of the same story, instead of just reading it as it was written on the newspaper.

Of late, community radio stations “have been following example set by private radio stations” in reading daily newspaper stories on their programmes and call it their news broadcast, the media consultant observed.

“It must stop,” Waggeh reaffirmed. “Newspaper reviews on the electronic media have to be limited to the headlines, usually those on the front page.”

He said as a matter of ethics, the broadcaster is obliged to refer its audience to the newspaper if they wish to know more about the headline reviewed.

The 18-day training was an attempt to provide the relevant training and to facilitate the important role played by the community-based radio stations.

At a time when Gambian media is emerging from a two decade long state of fear and repression, nothing could be more important than well trained, responsible and creative collection of journalists, producers and technicians in the radios, Waggeh said.

“The crucial job of peace building, development, information and entertainment await them,” he said. “In communities where local people have been divided in the aftermath of the change in government, community radio broadcasters are needed to help build community bridges and raise awareness.”

Community FM radio stations in The Gambia play a very important role in communities where they usually are the only choice for increasing numbers of radio owners.

The stations reach out to the members of the community with information broadcast in languages generally understood in their respective localities. However, more than 70% of their programmes daily is entertainment-based, just like the private radio stations in the urban area

Community radio stations are owned by the community and receive support from UNESCO to set up. They are operated by largely untrained and unmotivated staff. It is usually passion for the profession that keeps staff at work.