Jan 30, 2009, 4:48 AM
journalist and co-publisher of The Point newspaper, Pap Saine, has called on
journalists to avoid reporting hate speech.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day training course for journalists on election reporting organised by Gambia Press Union (GPU) in partnership with the UNDP.
The training course attended by 25 journalists from across the country was held at the Baobab Resort Hotel.
In his statement to officially open the course, Mr Saine said: “As journalists, we should avoid reporting hate speech and any remarks that will create problems for the society, since that will tarnish the image of the Gambian media and practitioners.
“You should be factual and accurate in your reporting. Your report should also be balanced and devoid of sentiments. Unbalanced reports always attract criticism, and put the press and journalists into disrepute.”
Therefore, he added, they must always ensure to get all relevant sides in an incident or matter, before reporting it for the consumption of the general public.
“We all should know that elections in Africa are associated with tense situations, since all interested parties and flag-bearers are in desperate race to win the hearts and minds of the electorate,” he added.
In that circumstance, he continued, flag-bearers, party supporters and stalwarts would always be tempted to say anything, that would make the other contenders look bad or lose popularity so that voters would support and vote for them instead of their opponents.
He, therefore, said the training of journalists on how to cover and report elections is a step in the right direction, as such training courses would hone the skills and enhance the knowledge of journalists as they execute their noble duty in society.
“This training is a good move which will help journalists, especially the young ones, in their covering and reporting of the electioneering process up to the voting day and after the results are announced.”
He further stated: “Journalists should always be professional, and stand ready to get the facts about an issue so that the report will be credible and sacrosanct. So, always do the right thing in line with your professional ethics and principles, and you will be good reporters of elections and everything else.”
Mr Saine thanked and commended the organisers and sponsors of the “invaluable” training workshop for journalists and the Gambian media.
Also speaking at the training session was Namory Trawally, GPU first vice president, who said the training course is important as the GPU feels it is necessary to train Gambian journalists for the forthcoming presidential and general elections in the country.
“We feel that when you get the trained personnel in the field, that will limit the trouble journalists’ encounter in the field.”
GPU, in collaboration with the UNDP, came together to finance the training course, and to make sure Gambian journalists are well equipped to cover the December elections, he went on.
The training activity targets journalist from all media houses in the country, more so senior journalists who would be really involved in election coverage, he added.
The training course is important to the GPU, which has been doing everything to make sure Gambian journalists are well prepared to face the challenges of the democratic process in the country.
“We believe that GPU, in collaboration with some partners, will try to make sure that some series of training take place before the election.”
He said there will be three other training courses to follow, to ensure Gambian journalists are aware of their roles and duties during elections.
Trawally said journalists are important during elections, because the masses depend on them.
“We want to make sure that by the time the 25 participants leave they will be able to produce stories that can help the Gambian people during elections.”
He called on the participants to make good use of the training course, and to be punctual so they could achieve their goals at the end of the training workshop.