Members of the High Table
It is indeed, a pleasure and an honour
to witness the fifth triennial congress of the GPU
as secretary general.Many of our
colleagues who were voted in with us are out of the country in some
circumstances against their wish, so I am privileged to have been able to ride
the rough and stormy seas.
The three years of our tenure have been
very eventful.We have witnessed very
negative attitudes and trends towards the media and press freedom in The
Gambia.However, there have also been
very positive developments i.e the setting up of new print media houses in
country, online Gambian newspapers, a Gambian online radio station and the
proliferation of private fm and community radio stations country wide.
We acknowledge in good faith the recent
keen demonstration of interest in the Union's
activities, zeal and willingness on the part of the membership to take
ownership by making efforts to take part in this most important activity, the
Congress.We do hope that it would end
today but that members, old and new alike would find it within themselves to
give off their time and resources to strengthen the Union
and the Executive to be chosen today to be able to achieve its goals.
On behalf of the GPU
executive, I wish to once again welcome all of you and wish us all fruitful
In the past 36 months, the GPU
has been highly visible and active in a number of areas.
ANDCAPACITYBUILDING OF JOURNALISTS/MEDIA HOUSES
A total of 77 journalists from various
print media houses, community radio stations and the state broadcasters were
trained to prepare them to play an effective role in election reporting in the
presidential elections of September 2006, the National Assembly Elections of
January 2007 and the recent Local Government Elections.
The training, which took place in
September 06, December 06 and January 07 covered topics such as Covering
Elections, Elections Reporting and Voters Voice Reporting.
Trainers and experts were drawn from
the IEC, media practitioners in the country, Dakar
and Ghana.The activities were mainly funded by the US
Embassy, Games and the GPU
In December 2007, two colleagues from
GAMES Ms. Camilla and Mr. Fleming were fielded for a weeklong training in
editorial management and radio reporting. The Editors of The Point and Foroyaa
participated in the Editorial Management training and the Studio Manager from
City Limits Radio participated in the Radio Reporting training. A total of six
participants 2 participants from each of the print media and two from the
electronic media participated. After the practical training, a workshop was
organized to share experiences and to put into practice what was learnt during
Between, January 17thto 24thJanuary, 2008,
a Danish colleague and member of Games Ms. Kirsten Jensen provided accounts
keeping tutorial support to GPU
administrator and assisted in the identification of an external auditor.
At the same time, two Danish
Journalists, Ms. Irmelin Vergas and Mr. Birger Ageraard trained reporters from
Foroyaa, The Point, Gambia News and Report and the Daily Express on Field
Reporting and Online Journalism.A total
number of 12 participants were trained and a workshop, attended by reporters from
the various participating media houses was held at the end of the weeklong
A total number of 6 participants from
The Point, Foroyaa and Gambia News and Report benefited from training in
Journalism and Photo Journalism from March 6thto March 13th2008.The training was conducted by two colleagues;
Ms. Eva Dalgaard Adreassen for Journalism and Mr. Trols Norlem for Photo
Journalism. After the practical training, a workshop which drew participants
from various media houses was organized.
In November/December 2007 Birger
Agergaard of Games and Ager Media hosts of the GPU
website trained the secretary general in Website Management.
Three journalists from The Point,
Foroyaa and The Nation were sent to Egypt
for a month long training in 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively.
The fifth C2C Mission of the Games/GPU
partnership is due to take place between March 27thand April 3rd, 2008.This mission entails two training sessions on
Lay-Out and Editorial Management. The Editorial Management training will be a
follow-up to earlier training that was conducted in November, 2007. Three
Newspapers; The Point, Foroyaa and the Gambia News and Report have been
identified to participate in the training.
Another mentoring mission is due in
June-July 2008 but the dates are yet to be confirmed.The GPU
executive, the project supervisor and administrator, under provisions made for
in the GPU/Games
partnership project are meant to visit another country in the sub region on a
study tour.However, this has not yet
taken place as the executive feels that these resources would be better
utilized to build on the capacity of the secretariat and for training.It proposed that a press union expert from
the sub-region visit, play a mentor role and train executive members on
advocacy and fund raising.The
modalities for this are yet to be worked out and agreed upon by all parties -
and the funders, Danida.
In May 2007, the press expert of the WAJACapacityBuilding
and Empowerment Project contacted the GPU
regarding short term (5 day) training activity for 30 participants on the
Basics of Journalism.All the logistics
were drafted and sent to WAJA by end June 2007, the training is yet to take
place as WAJA is yet to confirm dates for The Gambia.
In May 2006, the GPU,
the CSO Coalition, AAITG and patrons and friends of the GPU
launched the Deyda Hydara Foundation at the Alliance Franc Gambienne in memory
of a fallen comrade,Deyda Hydara,
co-propreitor and founder of The Point Newspaper who was gunned down on December 16, 2004.
A constitution was drawn up by a
committee, comprising members of the GPU
advisors and members of the Civil Society Coalition to guide the activities of
the Foundation.The Foundation has its
own account which will be officially handed over to the board upon its
inauguration.Board members are to
consist of representatives of the Hydara family, the CSO Coalition, GPU
and a legal person.
In December 2006, the GPU
embarked on a media monitoring exercise for the National Assembly Elections of
January 2007.The six week activity
funded by the UNDP enabled the GPU
to recruit from its membership and also further helped to build the capacity of
At the end of the project, all heads of
media houses were invited to a one day validation workshop at the NaNa
Conference Hall to discuss the findings of the exercise.Again, turn out was very low with only two
heads of media houses Foroyaa and News and Report, a few reporters and
officials of the UNDP.
A PC, two television sets, one dvd/vhs
recorder, two tape recorders, a printer and other office stationery were
acquired as part of the project and thereafter became the property of the GPU.
To boost the income generating capacity
of the GPU,
the IFJ in 2006 set up a Cyber Café with wireless internet connectivity at the GPU
Although the GPU
has run several televised and newspaper adverts inviting GPU
members and the general public to use the facility at a cheap rate of D10 for 45
minutes for members and 30 minutes for non-members, income from the cyber café
is still very minimal as it sometimes operates for weeks without a customer.
However, it has facilitated access for GPU
staff and the Executive and eased communications between the GPU
and its partners, donors and friends.Also, training is now mostly conducted at the GPU
Secretariat due to the availability of facilities of the Cyber Café.
Computers for the Cyber Café were
provided by FreeVoice.Other costs were
covered by the IFJ and connectivity is currently paid for by the Games/GPU
In November 2007, the GPU
signed a two year partnership agreement with the Gambia Media Support (GAMES)
to promote the development of Gambian news media and press freedom in The
GAMES received financial assistance on
behalf of the GPU
for a pilot project from DANIDA, a Danish NGO supported by the Danish
Government.The project's main aim will
be sought through the building and strengthening of the capacities of media
practitioners both print and electronic in the areas of editorial management,
radio reporting, field reporting, online journalism, web mastering, journalism,
photo journalism, and lay-out.
It is also seeks to build the
professional capacities of both the Gambian and Danish colleagues through
sparring, exchange of experiences, coaching, training in everyday working
situations. In addition, the project aims to build a long lasting collegial
network between the Gambian media practitioners and their Danish/European
The project implementation entails the
fielding of colleagues from Denmark
through training sessions, workshops, seminars and related activities.All these activities will be undertaken
through colleague to colleague missions.And, the experience gained from the c2c missions will be used to develop
and implement a long-term media development and training of trainer's
The project is coordinated by the GPU
Project coordinator and the project funds are also used for the payment of
salaries of the administrator, the coordinator and support staff. Salaries of
the secretary and office cleaner/messenger have been increased through project
Following the burning down of the
Independent Newspaper Printing presses in, difficulty in accessing printing
machines by existing media houses and the setting up of new newspaper houses,
printing, its affordability and the timely distribution of newspapers was
proving to be a problem thus, in order to ease access of the private media to
printing facilities, the GPU
thought it fitting to intervene by applying for funding of a printing press
through the US Embassy.
The approach to the acquisition of a
printer was two pronged, the GPU
was also in dire financial constraints and this was seen as an opportunity to
use proceeds from the commercial activities of the printing press to maintain
the day-to-day operational costs of the GPU
Executive unanimously agreed to house the Printing Press at The Point Newspaper
as at the time, they had printing limitations.An MOU signed between the GPU
and The Point clearly specified that The Point, would allow other media houses
access to the printer, and that proceeds, totaling 40 per cent of monies
received once The Point removed operational costs belonged to the GPU.
However, the printer didn't accrue the
necessary funds to make any meaningful positive change for the Union
and, The Point had also survived its printing problems thus did not necessarily
need to house the printing press.
The Printing Press was moved in October
is currently housed by Today Newspaper.A revised MOU signed by both parties also highlights access for other
media houses. Payment terms have been revisited and a fixed amount is payable
to the GPU
yearly, this would cover the Union's
rent and other operational costs.
Accessing funds for administrative
purposes has been difficult.The
Executive wrongly believed that members monthly dues coupled with funds accrued
from the printing press donated by the US Embassy in March 2006 would enable
comfortably pay its office rent, recruit an administrator and manage the
day-to-day operational costs of the secretariat.This however did not materialize as the
printer did not generate the funds estimated.At times, members of the Executive and its advisors had to contribute to
the payment of electricity and telephone bills.
For the first time, the GPU
paid its rent with proceeds from the printer in March 2008.It is envisaged that the new printer
arrangements, being more favourable to the GPU
would over time, serve the purpose for which it was intended.
The computer, two television sets, one
dvd/vhs recorder, two tape recorders, a printer and other office stationary
acquired as part of the UNDP media monitoring project have boosted the office
of the administrator.The printer,
connected to all computers in the secretariat has also been very useful
especially during training sessions.
All computers in the secretariat also
have internet access due to the wireless internet connection.
Internet access and all telephone/fax
lines at the secretariat are operational.Initially, following disconnection due to lack of funds, the IFJ intervened
and reconnected these.Internet
connectivity is now catered for under the GPU/Games
Following requests to the IFJ for
institutional support in January 2006 and prior consultations in December 2005,
the IFJ in May 2006 provided funds for the acquisition of a Heavy Duty
Photocopier, a Laser Jet Printer, a fax machine and a steel filing
cabinet.These funds were also used to
upgrade the secretariats internet connection to ADSL.
of the Secretariat
When the GPU
Executive took office in March 2005, an area of urgent priority was the
recruitment of a competent and experienced administrator to man the
Secretariat, however, the unavailability of funds made it difficult to
president DA Jawo voluntarily served as GPU
administrator until his appointment at the APA
office in Dakar
in 2006. After this, GPU
president, Madi Ceesay doubled as administrator, again, voluntarily until the
appointment of the current administrator in January 2008.Prior to this, interviews were conducted and
an administrator appointed but could not commence as funds promised for this at
the Toubab Diallaw meeting in Dakar
failed to materialize.The GPU/Games
partnership signed in November helped to address this problem.
Upon appointment, the administrator
with effect becomes an ex-officio member of the Executive and is required to
attend meetings of the Executive
Committee and take minutes. She is also required to implement the decisions
of the Executive Committee.
In January, the administrator benefited
from a C2C mission aimed at backstopping the GPU
Secretariat and accounts keeping of the GPU/Games
In short, with an experienced
administrator in place, it is envisaged that the work of the GPU
will progress.Furthermore, the project
is well designed with adequate measures in place to serve as checks and to
The recruitment of the administrator
and terms of reference were drawn by the GPU
Executive and its advisory committee. This was also agreed to by Games who fund
the monthly salary payments of the administrator.
partnership agreement also makes provision for the appointment of a project
coordinator, who will be responsible for implementing and monitoring the
The Project Coordinator is required to
implement all decisions of the Executive Committee so long as they are
consistent with the partnership agreement.Among other things, the coordinator will ensure the adequate and prompt
implementation of the work plan; develop a database on media trainers and
trained media workers; and, engage in research in order to develop and or
propose new ideas for capacity building, fund raising and continuity of the
Furthermore, the partnership agreement
makes provision for checks. A Gambian
organizational mentor, George Christensen and a regional press union consultant
are to serve as supervisors.
The secretary at the GPU
office has been with the Union
since 2000. A loyal and hardworking member of staff, she was sometimes owed a
month to two months salary arrears due to lack of funds especially during the
second year of tenure.In times like
this, members of the GPU
Executive have either contributed in part or wholly paid her salaries.
At the monthly meeting of January 2008,
executive members lamented the poor salary structures and the fact that her
salary had been static since she joined the GPU.
The administrator was authorized to effect salary increment changes of 67 per
cent with immediate effect.
Since the assumption of office of the
current executive, the GPU
has had three office cleaner messengers.Due to inadequate funds and the size of the office, it has been
generally accepted that the office cleaner would double as the messenger.
Late payments, salary arrears coupled
with a poor salary structure have made it difficult to maintain a consistent
cleaner/messenger.It is important that
the secretariat maintain a long serving office messenger who knows the GPU
contacts and their offices.In months
that there was no messenger, the secretary had to double and Executive members
have had to distribute and receive mail.
In January, a new cleaner messenger was
recruited and has also benefited from the salary increment that was effected
Amadou Sanneh of AAC
was contracted as External Auditor to the GPU
as agreed in the GPU/Games
Partnership.This, the Executive also
felt would boost the image of the Union
in accessing funding from a wider array of sources and donors.
Games member Ms. Kirsten Jensen also
assisted in the identification of the external auditor.
was supported by Article 19 to develop a strategic plan on March 13, 2007.The Workshop was held at the NaNA Conference
Hall and attended by the GPU
executive, the advisory committee set up after the Toubab Diallaw meeting,
Article 19 and other GPU
Heads of media houses and
representatives of the Government were invited but did not attend.This however did not prevent the Strategy
from being developed.
Most activities listed under the
strategic plan are either short term or ongoing.These were drawn in line with the current
financial situation of the GPU
and activities that we can embark on given the limited technical expertise of
the current executive and our advisors, potential donors in country and Article
19 who funded the meeting.
In December 2006, the GPU
website www.gambiapressunion.org was launched.The site, hosted by Ager Media is funded by Games.In December 2007, due to inadequate materials
and lack of access to materials for the site, a GPU
Executive member was trained on website management.
In a bid to raise awareness on freedom
of expression and other related human rights issues, the GPU
organizes symposia to familiarize members and non members alike on the global
and national issues affecting the Gambian media.All of these activities were jointly funded
by the GPU
and partners based on their area of interest.
Commemoration of the 1stanniversary of the Killing of Deyda Hydara
In commemoration of the first
anniversary of the killing of Deyda Hydara, the GPU
organized a two day international conference on the theme press freedom,
democracy and development.
Participants were drawn from the WAJA
membership, Press Unions in the sub region, Games, IFJ, MFWA, FAMEDEV, BBC
World, the CSO Coalition in The Gambia.
As part of activities marking the
anniversary, participants were to visit the site were the late Deyda Hydara was
gunned down but were denied access by the Police on arrival.
Messages of solidarity were read by
FLARE, Games, SYMPICS, and WAJA.
The secretary of state for
Communications, Information and Technology was invited to the Opening and
Closing ceremonies but did not come.She
also was not represented.
activity was funded by AAITG.
The third and fourth anniversaries of
the killing were not celebrated in such magnitude but the Union
issues statements on the day, visits the family and joins them in prayer.It was an Executive Decision to celebrate the
event only on milestone years given the costs entailed in organizing large
Following consistent attacks on the
media, media practitioners and arrests of some executive members of the GPU,
a consultative meeting was held in Toubab
to discuss the media situation in The Gambia and the way forward for the GPU.
Partners and international media
organizations such as the IFJ, MFWA, Games, International Media Support (IMS),
FAMEDEV, members and advisors of the GPU
executive, and representatives of the CSO Coalition in The Gambia were in
Pledges were made to support the
institutional capacity building of the GPU,
further raise the issue of the situation of the Gambian media and an advisory
committee was set up to guide and monitor the activities of the Executive.
Press Freedom Day, May 06
On World Press Freedom Day, 2006, the GPU,
the CSO Coalition, patrons and friends of the GPU
launched the Deyda Hydara Foundation at the Alliance Franco Gambienne in memory
of a fallen comrade,Deyda Hydara,
co-propreitor and founder of The Point Newspaper who was gunned down on December 16, 2004.
Press Freedom Day, May 07
celebrated World Press Freedom Day 2007 by organizing another symposium on
freedom of expression and human rights.Guest Speakers are drawn from Human Rights Groups and Media
Since it's assumption of office in
March 2005, the GPU
Executive has paid courtesy calls on AAITG, the British High Commission, US
Embassy and maintained cordial links with these institutions. Efforts to meet
the SoS for Communication, Information and Technology always proved futile.
now has a membership of One Hundred and Sixty Six (166).
Since March 2005, there have been 70
new members. Of these, Sixty Four (64) applied between the months of January to
early March 2008.
As at now, there are 36 applications
pending review. Of these, 30 are broadcast journalists/ media workers and the
remaining 6 are in the print media.Again, all of these were submitted between February 20thand March 19th , 2008.
Non payment of membership dues has also
contributed to some of the Union's
financial constraints.Out of a
membership of 104 at the beginning of January 2008, Ninety Six (96) owed dues
and only paid in the run up to the Congress.There were only Eight (8) fully paid up members as at January 2008.
Twenty Six (26) of these members
currently reside outside The Gambia.
In March 2005, an executive of nine was
elected to office, by January 2007, the executive had dwindled to 4.
Musa Saidy Khan and Omar Bah left for
their personal security.
Aisa Dabo now lives and works in Dakar
and Alimatou Jarra Jallow moved to the USA
for family reasons.
In 2006, Alex Dacosta, co-opted member
of the Executive resigned by copy of email sent to other members of the GPU
executive and some partners of the GPU.
Executive has convened 30 out of 36 monthly meetings since the current
executive was elected into office in March 2005.Of these, several were cancelled as the
numbers in attendance sometimes two or three all executive members went on to
have executive meetings instead.The
highest turn out of a monthly meeting was in October 2005, when ten non
executive members attended.All of these
meetings were attended by at least one member of the executive mostly, the GPU
Technical and Financial Proposals were
sent to AAITG, UNDP and the IFJ for funding of the March 2008 Congress.Of these, only the IFJ responded favorably.
All arrangements were made and put in
place by the administrator, the GPU
Executive, its advisors.
The Congress is funded by the GPU
At the WAJA Congress in Abidjan,
May 2006, Madi Ceesay, GPU
president was elected into the WAJA Executive board.
On 6thJanuary 2007,
Madi Ceesay attended the IFJ Congress in Moscow
where he was elected into the IFJ Executive.
By virtue of the fact that he sits on
the WAJA executive board, GPU
President Madi Ceesay has on three occasions attended board meetings in Bamako,
The fourth WAJA board meeting in
November 2007, he could not attend, and was represented by GPU
secretary general, Ndey Tapha Sosseh.Reports, details and minutes of these meetings were discussed at GPU
president also traveled to Morocco
to attend an IFJ meeting.
Madi M.K. Ceesay, President, Gambia
Press Union received the CPJ
Press Freedom Award in 2006.The GPU
president is the first West African to receive the accolade.
OF THE MEDIA IN THE GAMBIA
The media has increasingly been
operating in an environment of growing hostility, arrests, detention, assaults
and the closure of media houses have frequently occurred during the tenure of
the current GPU
Mr Musa Saidykhan, editor-in-chief of
The Independent was arrested and detained for a brief period soon after his
return from The African Editors Forum (TAEF) meeting in South
centered on suspicions that he gave information to senior South African
officials about the state of the press and human rights in The Gambia.
The editor-in-chief of Independent
Newspaper, Musa Saidykhan was again arrested by the NIA March 27thfrom his home a few days after the alleged
attempted coup of March
21, 2006 following "critical" articles
published in his paper. The following day, Independent General Manager Madi
Ceesay was also arrested by the NIA.They were released three days later with no charges against them.Musa Saidy Khan now lives outside the country
and alleges that he was tortured whilst in detention.
On April 10thLamin Fatty, a reporter for the Independent
Newspaper was arrested by the NIA from home and detained at the NIA
headquarters in Banjul for 63 days.He
was charged for false publication and the trial, which commenced on June 12, 2006
is still ongoing.If found guilty, he
faces penalties ranging from a fine D50,000 and D250,000 or imprisonment for a
minimum period of one year.
The Gambia Press Union has had to raise
funds to contribute to Fatty's legal fees.
Mr Juldeh Sowe, a rec