#Article (Archive)

Access to Information is Vital

Jul 17, 2008, 6:14 AM

The relationship between the police force and the media is a very important one indeed. It is a relationship that must be characterised by trust on both sides. It is very important that the police allow a free flow of information to come to the general public through the media so as to avoid confusion or misinformation. Under the former IGP, Benedict Jammeh, this flow of information was free and the general public benefitted as a result. It is disappointing therefore that since the present IGP, Essa Badjie, took over, the flow has been somewhat constricted. It is perhaps a little premature to say that there has been a clamp down on the release of information but it must be said that clear information is far more difficult to come by recently than it had been under the previous regime.

The reasons for this may be many and varied.

In establishing himself in his new role, IGP Badjie may wish to show that he runs a tight ship. This is very understandable and laudable but if this is the case we must say that free communication of information to the media through the proper channels is a vital part of a tight ship.

The importance of access to correct and accurate information from the police is a vital part of any journalist's work. Communication with the Public Relations Officer of the police force should be a constant in the life of a journalist as of course information and its publication is a two-way street. The police force makes very good use of the media as a means of disseminating information. This very day in the national news The Point carries the words of IGP Badjie urging the youth of The Gambia to stay away from illegal drugs. A message is also sent to alkalolu with regard to the issuing of papers. As is our civic duty, we carry these messages dutifully, but importantly we must also have access to other information regarding the operations of the police force. We appeal to IGP Badjie to encourage an open and frank relationship between the police and the press so as to allow the symbiotic relationship between the two institutions to flourish.

"A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself."

Arthur Miller