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ICFJ trains journalists on media and the law

May 7, 2012, 12:15 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

As part of its efforts at building the capacity of Gambian journalists, the US-based International Centre for Journalists, ICFJ, on Friday ended a two-day media capacity building workshop for editors and senior reporters on media and the law.

The training workshop was geared towards enhancing local journalists’ understanding of media and law issues, as part of a series organized by the ICFJ, Gambia Press Union (GPU) and Foundation for Legal Aid and Empowerment (FLARE) under a joint project being implemented in The Gambia.

Kevin Goldberg, a media law specialist from the US conducted the workshop, assisted by Sam Sarr, veteran Gambian journalist and managing editor of Foroyaa newspaper.

During the two-day  training session, participants were  lectured on legal basic; access to records and meetings; newsgathering torts: breach of contract: newsroom searches: reporter’s privilege; content base vs content neutral speech; prior restraint; false light; invasion of piracy; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent publication and broadcast.

Addressing the participants at the close of the training, ICFJ country director Alieu Famara Sagnia congratulated them for their active cooperation.

According to Sagnia, the training came at time the media is calling for repeal of the country’s media laws which restrict the work of journalists.

“ICFJ and its partners in the project feel that it is necessary to do something about the Gambia’s media laws; that was why we engaged the services of Kevin Goldberg, expert in legal affairs, to come to The Gambia to discuss the issue of our media law,” he said.

Sagnia expressed hope that the knowledge gained at the training will spread to others who were not privileged to attend the workshop, further noting, “It is important for you to be better prepared and equipped to do your work in this specialized area of media law.”

In brief remarks, GPU president Bai Email Touray lauded the partnership between the GPU, ICFJ and FLARE, which he said has ‘yielded dividends’

Touray also commended the trainer, Kevin Goldberg, for giving his best since his arrival in the country, noting that his paper delivered on World Press Freedom Day undoubtedly addressed an issue which is of great concern to Gambian journalists - seditious libel law.

Touray urged journalists to publish Goldberg’s lecture, which further consolidated the union’s position that the authorities need to critically look at the laws that regulate the media industry in this country.

The GPU president also called on the participants to share the knowledge with their colleagues, and urged the ICFJ to continue supporting the Gambian media.

He described the media industry of The Gambia as ‘young’ unlike in other jurisdictions, and therefore has a long way to go.

“We can only develop the media industry in this country through capacity building,” Touray continued, and went on to stress the importance of training in the ethics of the profession for journalists.

The ICFJ Gambia project manager, who is based in Dakar (Senegal), Wilma J.E. Randle recalled the series of training workshops conducted to date to build the capacity of Gambian journalists, including on election reporting, and for media, managers.

She said these have helped improve the skills of many reporters, and urged journalists in the Gambia to demonstrate professionalism at all times.

The representative of FLARE, Sait Matty Jaw, declared the continued commitment of his organisation to the partnership with ICFJ and GPU in building media capacity in The Gambia.

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