Oct 15, 2008, 6:37 AM
It is encouraging and a welcome development to read that Ms Fatou Camara has been appointed as the new Director of Press and Public Relations at the Office of the President.
The move is an essential one for the country's development, especially for the media, if journalists are to be able to carry out their duties to the fullest degree.
For some time now, the independent press has not been having access to statements and press releases issued by the government, which hinders them a lot in their day-to-day work.
Government must open its doors to the independent media so as to allow the media to disseminate information to the general public.
For too long, accessing information from the government has been a very difficult task for journalists.
This is very undesirable, as by virtue its nature, the Office of the President should not be secretive. While we congratulate and welcome Fatou to a very challenging job, we hope that, with her appointment, this will never be the case again.
Journalists, especially those of the independent media, are part and parcel of the democratic dispensation, and their role is equally important as other segments, because of the significant role media play in raising the awareness of the public on sensitive issues affecting the life of all.
History has taught that government-private media relationship is often flawed, for lack of trust. The media is more than a public relations institution, so any attempt to frustrate the work of the journalist can be inimical to development.
The reality is, however, that in an open and free society only the most sensitive information should be kept from the general public. This would include operational information and issues of a similar nature. Other than this, most information should be in the public domain so that the population can stay informed.
There is no denying the fact that, for a reporter to bring balance to any piece, they must be able to access both sides of the story. This means when a reporter contacts any public official for a comment on a particular story, they must be furnished with one.
People cannot just pick and choose what they want to comment on, there must be consistency with regards to the treatment of the press.
The press is one of the essential elements of a free society. It has long been regarded as essential in a democracy, and recognised as one of the pillars that ensure good governance.
For this reason, the press must be supported by the government and all its agencies, and encouraged to flourish and thrive.
The other thing that must be said, loud and clear, is that the press has no agenda other than purveying the truth.
"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."