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Media Practitioners and Security Personnel Iron out Concerns

May 16, 2008, 8:06 AM | Article By: By Soura Camara & Pa Modou Faal

In an attempt to create a better relationship through mutual understanding and a bond of trust, the two partners, security officers and media practitioners have come together at the Baobao Resort Hotel for two-day training session. The meeting, which is being held on the 14th and 15th of May, is expected to raise concerns over the impending obstacles that will make access to information difficult for journalists and the enlightening of journalists about the ethics of journalism.

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary (PS) for Work and Communication, Mr. Abdou Karim Sonko, highlighted the need to create good understanding and clear cooperation between the two institutions. PS Sonko explained that security personnel should not be seen as our enemies but our brothers who provide us with protection. Journalists are also important as they try to inform us about everything that is happening in and out of the country.

Mr. Sonko called for journalists to uphold their principles, provide balanced and accurate reports and in all ways ensure the correct distribution of information.

In a resounding speech, the President of The Gambian Press Union (GPU), Ndey Tapha Sosseh expressed delight about the course that will hopefully get rid of all of the union's concerns and improve relations between the media and security personnel. The GPU President reckons that this opportunity will contribute more effectively than anything else to the realisation of the GPU's aim to bridge the gap between the National Security Institution and the media. "This is a difficult task in any place but we must start somewhere," she said.

Ambassador Barry Wells of the US Embassy in Banjul, who are co-sponsors of this workshop with the British High Commission, emphasised that the role of the media was to inform the people with the correct news and all the news to create a democratic society. Ambassador Wells pointed out the great need for journalists to be able to access quality and reliable sources. Ambassador Wells further said that by working with journalists and other civil society groups, security personnel, who are at the heart of many developing scandals, will be able to spread the true story among the public.

For his part, the Director of Media Agenda and the facilitator of the workshop, Mr. Madi Ceesay stated that the training of the twin civil society groups is a worthy cause.

He did accept that those working in security will not and cannot compromise state security while the journalist's job is to inform the public about everything that's going on. So they have conflicting interests and that may cause difficulties. He noted that this two-day workshop will make it easier to deal with problems such as stories that the media believe the people should know about but the security industry feel is unfit for publication. He hopes that this training session will help these two groups reach a compromise in such situations of disagreement but it is his wish that the people of The Gambia will get the true story.

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