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Encourage Journalists for the Sake of Our Development

Apr 25, 2008, 5:14 AM

As part of celebrations to mark World Malaria Day, African Media and Malaria research Network (AMMREN) Gambian chapter, in collaboration with the parent group in Ghana, will mark the day at Media Agenda.

The seminar is expected to bring together 20 journalists and related partners in the crusade against malaria. Also expected to attend are a number of scientists from the Medical Research Council and the National Malaria Control Programme.

This again highlights the vital role played by journalists in our society. It underscores the importance of a free press in disseminating important information to the population at large. An issue like malaria must be constantly discussed and preventative measures explained in the media to ensure that people are firstly aware of the risks and secondly educated on the relevant precautions to take.

This is why we must ensure that our journalists have proper training so that they can carry out their essential role in society to the fullest.

It is also why the draconian media laws which make it so expensive to run a newspaper must be revoked. We as a people should be encouraging growth in the media sector rather than hampering it. As well as being an essential part of a free society, journalism is also a job. If we encourage the growth of the media sector in The Gambia it will lead to job creation. Young people who have the option of proper training will focus more at school and have something to aim for. Unemployment among young people is a scourge on our society so anything that can be done to tackle it must be done. This includes the encouragement of the media industry.

At the moment many people are simply too afraid to go into journalism and this is a very serious situation. We must reverse it.

Young people must be free to choose whatever career they wish without having to fear the consequences. The benefits to the nation will be many if we encourage a society that is conducive to freedom of speech and defined by a free press. Employment and a more open society will follow.

As with malaria sensitisation so with many other topics; journalists are a major benefit to our society. We should encourage them and ensure that they work in a climate free of fear.

It is clear that the country co-ordinator of AMMREN Mr. Pa Modou Faal understands the positive role that journalists play in society. He remarked that the coming seminar will reflect positive changes as journalists can disseminate the information that the scientists uncover during their research. Mr. Faal further stated that it will give Gambians the opportunity to be well sensitised on issues like the pandemic.

Mr. Faal said that the seminar will support government efforts to reach the Abuja target. The Gambia has already achieved a record 54% through the use of insecticide treated bed nets.

Journalists and the press have a vital role to play in the development of The Gambia. They should be given all the support and encouragement they deserve.