May 5, 2020, 1:56 PM
When WHO added Disease X to its R&D Blueprint in 2018, the reality of an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic was just beyond the limits of the imagination.
Since the outbreak of this deadly pandemic, the country’s media has been in the fore-front in sensitising the populace on some of the precautionary measures people should adhere to.
It is an indisputable fact that the need for correct and vital information is important especially during this deadly pandemic. The way and manner in which the country’s media reported about this deadly virus remind us about the cardinal roles of informing and educating the populace.
From TVs, radios, newspapers to other online channels, the air times, slots and prominence devoted to the coverage of covid-19 has been overwhelming. Issues relating to coronavirus continue to occupy editorials in most cases and this is done to better educate and sensitise the populace about covid-19.
Despite this remarkable and extensive publicity devoted to covid-19, the country’s media like other sectors, is also faced with numerous challenges from low drops or halts in adverts to daily returns due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Those in the media would attest to this fact that coronavirus crisis has led to a sudden halt in advertising investments, an essential source of revenue for public medias and the only source of financial income for private medias.
The country’s media is therefore not spared by this deadly pandemic. While printing cost continues to skyrocket, it is important for government to allocate special package to support the media during these trying times.
As reported in yesterday’s edition of The Point, President Macky Sall’s government recently extended magnanimity to the Senegalese media with a donation of 1.4 billion CFA, an equivalent of D120.4 million to media chiefs to meet the challenges and effects of covid-19 pandemic. This goes to show how exemplary Macky is. He is not only seen as an icon but a role model in Africa. His magnanimity is not only limited to the media but to other sectors including the private sector in his country.
We are not trying to draw comparison between The Gambia and Senegal, but it reminds us about role of media in any thriving democracy.
Beside this assistance, in Senegal, government also gives annual subvention to media chiefs in the sum of 700 million CFA, an equivalent of D60.2 million.
While there are other needs to sort out, such as staff salaries, printing costs to other pressing needs, we believe that any form of support at this time is crucial in keeping our primary role of informing and educating the populace.
It is better late than never. Government should therefore consider the media.
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
In the wake up of the fast spreading nature of the global pandemic, covid-19 has posed difficult challenge to not only nations around the globe but even local dwellers in far flung communities of Gambia. Due to its worrying nature, it thus requires wisdom and mutual understanding as we battle through it.
Mr. President, we would like to congratulate the entire Muslim Ummah on the feast of ‘Koriteh.’ May Allah accept our fasting and grant our prayers.