#Article (Archive)

What Our Editors Should Do

Apr 7, 2008, 10:54 AM

The recent editorial management workshop organised by GAMES (Gambia Media Support), a Danish organisation, has led to calls for the setting up of a guild of editors in the country. If editors have a forum where they can thrash out professional matters, it will enhance professionalism in the practice of journalism in this country, as they will have an opportunity to compare notes and see what works and what doesn't.

Since editors are the gatekeepers in a newspaper house, we believe that they have to be on their toes to make sure that what gets published is newsworthy and of public interest.

Editors have to filter reports sent in by their reporters and make them publishable in line with the mission and editorial policy of their papers. Though access to information is a headache for journalists around town, a major drawback of our journalism is lack of follow-up on stories. Stories are broken, only to be allowed to peter out, to the dissatisfaction of readers who yearn to learn more about them. This is an indication that our editors are not doing what they should do. News editors must have daily meetings with their reporters, identify stories that are worthy pursuing and then assign reporters to follow them up. When reporters chase only after workshop stories, court stories, or press releases, then editors are not doing enough of what they should do. It is the duty of the editors to think up different angles for a story to be developed and get the reporters to do it.

Our editors have to ensure that once a rookie reporter is signed on he or she has to be taken through an induction course before being let out into the field. During the induction course, they should be trained on house style, on the basics of journalism as well as on ethics of the profession. They have to be assigned to a senior reporter in a particular beat to mentor them for a determined period of time. Then, they can be let out to be on their own. But then again, the editor has to keep a tab on their progress. Even when we have a fully-fledged school of journalism in this country, there will still be need for such in-house orientation programmes.

Our editors would also be wise to carry out periodic audits of their papers. They should find out, through well-crafted questionnaires, their readers' profiles, interests, passions, etc and modify their editorial policies in line with new developments in the industry.

It should also be a challenge to our editors to make our papers more national by reporting on what happens in the other regions. Most of our daily diet of news is from the Greater Banjul Area.We want to see a guild of editors that will work towards bringing more professionalism into Gambian journalism.