Jul 14, 2010, 1:54 PM
Gambia Press Union and its partners organised a symposium and public lectures
as part of the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, held at the
Faculty of Law University of The Gambia, under the theme: “Critical minds for
Speaking at the symposium, Lars Moller, from The Gambia Media Support (GAMES), said that every year World Press Freedom Day is observed but this the first time The Gambia Press Union and The Gambia is marking the day.
He added that there is a difficult task ahead in the new chapter of The Gambia.
Suleiman Braimah, from Media Foundation in West Africa (MFWA), who is from Ghana, said journalists across West Africa are experiencing a challenge even after almost two decades of democratization and the liberalization of the media environment and that now that we are beginning to see some of the gains that have been made.
Mr Braimah stated that in Nigeria, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire there were incidents of attacks on journalists, arrests, detention, and so on.
“We need critical minds to build a society that is inclusive, just and peaceful and as journalists we have to prove to the citizenry, government and to the authorities why we have always said that press freedom matters.
“It is important and we can demonstrate that by being professional in what we do and by being the watchdogs and agenda setters that we have to be we can make this point,” he said.
The EU Ambassador, H.E. Attila Lajos, said the media business is being shaken to the core by the rise of digital and social media and that the media should not only be a source of information but also a platform for a multitude of voices in mobilizing tolerance and dialogue.
The Minister of Information, Communications and Infrastructure, Demba A. Jawo, reiterated that the journalists should not be left behind and that the reform of media laws is among the top priorities of the new government.
“We in this country have been quite lucky that journalists and media practitioners have always exercised responsibility in their handling of national issues and we will depend on you to play your part in the national reconciliation,” he said.
Minister Jawo stated that one of the objectives of World Press Freedom Day is for journalists to reflect on their achievements and challenges but with the new Gambia the media is now given a more robust role to play in consolidating that change.
Nana Grey Johnson, the dean of journalism and digital media, at the University of The Gambia, said that the “Nana Law remains the worst against press freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia”.
He advised journalists to be out in the field and bring critical stories that are affecting the lives of individuals rather than following ministers and writing about the theoretical.
He warned journalists: “If you cannot do the work of a journalist you better try something else.”
Gibairu Janneh, former Secretary General of the GPU, also gave an impressive lecture and answered some questions from the members of the press.