#Article (Archive)

We are not enemies

Apr 13, 2015, 10:10 AM

Gambia Fire and Rescue Services (GFRS) has come out clean to express how getting accurate information on scenes of fire outbreak has always been difficult for them.

They clearly pointed out that this is what, in turn, has been making it difficult for them “to give right information to the press”.

However, in a press briefing recently organised to give better understanding of the operations of GFRS to the media, senior officials of the rescue services blamed the institution’s poor public image on the press.

They claimed that people have less confidence on the rescue services because some of the reports by media houses were negative of the government institution.

We want to say that we are not enemies; we should be seen as partners in development.We mean well for our nation just as any practitioners of other professions.

It is never the intention of any media house to tarnish or soil the public image of any institution - be it public or private.

The rescue services and all other institutions should know that one cardinal principle of the media is to strive at all times and by all means possible to only give accurate information.

The media in themselves don’t manufacture news or information; all we do is serving as conduit to transmit information.

So whenever the information we are passing does not, in one way or the other, favour any institution, then we are sorry for such a mishap, for it is not our job to hurt or damage reputation.But is not our job too to always cover the truth and facts on the altar of reporting favourable things, which means self-destruction to the growth of our organisations or state institutions and, by extension, our society.

Besides, it should be noted that be it the media or not; one thing is certain, information must flow. There has never been any time in history when there is complete lack of information, whether the media is there or not.

In the case of the fire service, they themselves confirmed that to get accurate information is difficult for them; the media is facing the same or even worse situation.

It is good that the rescue services realised that their poor image in the media is as a result of not giving the right information to the media because having correct information is even difficult for them.

Most times, victims are ever willing to give their own version of the story to the media.Well, it is the media’s responsibility to try as much as possible to get all the sides to a story before any publication; but if all efforts to get the other sides always prove futile, then there is nothing unethical in reporting what is available at the time.

However, the GFRS has taken a commendable initiative by inviting the media to a discussion in a bid to let them know their modus operandi and constraints.Also to let the media know “the right people to contact before reporting anything on your medium” regarding the GFRS.

This is a good initiative that other institutions should emulate because certainly if the media know where to have the right information and have easy access to the information at the right time, they will report the accurate information, at the right time. A case in point is our lead story today. We tried in vain we could not get clear information from the hospital authorities nor could we reach the Police PRO.

Going forward, we want to assure the rescue services that we will be working together as partners in development, which we are.We are all partners playing distinct but important roles to the development of The Gambia.

We are for development and the truth hence we report on what you do and what you did not do and the public make their judgment - period.

“When there isinformation, there is enlightenment.”
Atifete Jahjaga