The training was organized by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in partnership with The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Senegal office.
The capacity building initiative currently underway at the Paradise Suites Hotel, seeks to build the capacity of Gambian journalists on election coverage and ethics of election reporting.
The trainings, which include modules on conflicts sensitive reporting and hate speech, come at a time when the country is facing challenges in build to December polls.
Journalists would also be trained on how to de-escalate the tension that comes with election in a polarized and conflict-prone country like The Gambia.The first set consists of 25 journalists from various media houses.
At the opening ceremony, Muhammed S Bah, vice president of GPU said the trainings are designed to arm journalists with the pre-requisite knowledge and skills to cover electoral process.
The participants, he added, during the eight day will also be trained on general related issues of election, saying the sessions are to be delivered by different local and international bodies.
“As the country goes to the first post dictatorship presidential elections in December, GPU recognizes that it is important to build the capacity of journalists for them to effectively inform and educate the public when covering the entire election process.”
Bah enjoined journalists and media houses to work according to the dictates of code of ethics in other to remain professional and to gain public trust in their work.
Alieu Momarr Njie, chairman of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) described the training as timely coming at a when IEC has announced the date for the next presidential elections slated for 4th December 2021.
Njie revealed that IEC recently conducted a general voter registration and is working towards the final credible voter process.
“Messages are coded from different players in the electoral process and received by different orientation hence the need for diligence, maintenance of peace and stability is required.”
Sait Mboob, enterprise officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said his institution is pleased to support the training.
Media, he observed, plays a critical role in any elections and is also responsible for holding the electoral officials to account.
“Democracy in The Gambia is flourishing and developing and journalists are the shepherd as you represent the voice of the people.” Sait Mboob said.