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Journalists undergo training ahead of parliamentary polls

Jan 24, 2012, 12:35 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Barely two months to the forthcoming National Assembly Elections, journalists drawn from both the print and electronic media are taking part in a week-long training course on election coverage and reporting, under way at the Seaview Hotel in Kololi.

Coming as a follow-up to a similar one held in September last year, the training workshop is being organized by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) in partnership with the Gambia Press Union and the Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment with funding under a project financed by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

The training workshop, which is part of a programme launched in 2010 by the ICFJ to, among others enhance the skills of journalists (reporters and editors) working in the country, as well as strengthen the associations which represent them, is being conducted by American journalist and consultant Herb Frazier.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Alieu Sagna, country director of the ICFJ, said the ICFJ Gambia Project has lined up activities for implementation over the project period, including two election reporting workshops.

He revealed that after the completion of the course on Friday, the ICFJ Gambia project would have trained a total of 40 journalists on election coverage and reporting.

The IFCJ country director recalled that in October and December 2011, his office held workshops on management for media houses.

“These workshops are meant to help the media houses produce and have in place a Strategic Plan for their organization, and to adopt the practice of developing annual action plans. We started with the print media, and intend to work with four radio stations next time we have such a workshop,” Sagnia added.

This, he said, is all part of the ICFJ’s work to build the management capacity and improve the management of media institutions in the country, particularly the private and independent media.

“ICFJ intends to complement the good work being done in the area of media capacity building in The Gambia by the U.S. Embassy in Banjul,” he stated.

He revealed that more training sessions on investigative reporting, citizen journalism and online journalism are in the pipeline.

Also addressing the participants was Madi Jobarteh, coordinator of FLARE, who chaired the occasion.

Jobarteh underscored the importance of such training workshops, and stressed the need for journalists to hold government and stakeholders accountable to the masses.

“The role of the media is very important, especially when it comes to election reporting and coverage. Media is viable in promoting the sharing of information to the citizens to be aware of the message different parties put across during electioneering period,” Jobarteh stated.

Other speakers included Ahmed Alota, executive director of the Gambia Press Union, who on behalf of the GPU president declared the workshop officially opened.