Jan 18, 2010, 12:51 PM
It is gratifying to hear that the state has decided to drop the criminal charges against two journalists, who were charged with conspiracy and incitement of violence for seeking a permit from the police to hold a peaceful protest.
Baboucarr Ceesay, first vice president of the Gambia Press Union and Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelance journalist, were arrested on 6th September and released on bail on 10th September after they were charged with incitement of violence and conspiracy to commit a felony.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Gambia Press Union, which welcomed the move, said “the duo informed the Union that they were on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 at the State Law Complex in Banjul, told by the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lamin Jobarteh, that the Gambian leader has ordered that the charges against them be dropped by the State.”
This is, no doubt, a good move because we have over the years highlighted in these pages that the government should never see the media as enemies, but as partners in the development process of this country.
It has always been very strange to us that most people regard journalist as enemies of the powers that be.
As journalists, we do not see ourselves in that role.
What the journalist is, and sees as his/her role in the society, is to serve as a watchdog that keeps an eye on developments in society, and reports or comments on them.
In fact, this is a mandate given to the journalist by the Gambian constitution.
The journalist’s job requires him or her to report on both the pleasant and the sordid aspects of life as lived in the society.
When the journalist writes a favourable report, from the perspective of the powers that be, he or she is applauded as a good boy or girl.
However, when the reports are critical, the journalist is vilified, and branded as public enemy Number One.
As we always emphasize, news consumers have to learn to take the good with the bad!
The journalist does not create news; he or she reports it as he or she sees it, whether it’s good news or bad news.
When the news is bad, the journalists report it, just as they would do when it is favourable.
So they are neither friends nor enemies of anybody and, definitely, not of the powers that be!
Indeed, who would want to be considered an enemy of the powers that be?
What is true, however, is that the journalist is a partner in development.
The journalists are partners in development, because by reporting the bad news, they are drawing the government’s and society’s attention to drawbacks that needed improvement.
Even when reports produced by journalists are seen, in some quarters, to be unfavourable, the public should take them as a call for corrective measures, put forward by partners in development.
And when they report on the positive aspects of society, they are equally highlighting the good work of persons in society including leaders at all levels, and helping to consolidate their strengths.
It is for this reasons that we further called on the government to also consider reversing its decision and allow the publishers of The Standard and Daily News newspapers to resume publication.
Likewise, the authorities should also reopen Taranga FM a commercial radio station in Sinchu Alagie village in the Kombo North district which was ordered to cease operation earlier in August.
“It’s not the world that’s got so much worse, but the news coverage that’s got so much better.”