By Mammy Saidykhan
The Media Council of The Gambia (MCG) in collaboration with the Gambia Press Union (GPU), with funding from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), over the weekend engaged media managers and editors in a forum on media ethics.
The August 26 and 27, 2022 engagements held at the Baobab Hotel in Bijilo were attended by 30 media managers and editors from the mix of mass media.
These activities are part of a project by the GPU aimed at strengthening the Media Council of The Gambia and consolidating the self-regulation of the Gambian media, the GPU Secretary General, Modou S. Joof, said. “In order to build and sustain public trust in the fourth estate, there must be respect for our code of conduct and adherence to internationally-acceptable journalism principles and standards,” he said.
Discussions were centered on concerns over ethical violations among journalists and media organisations. The engagements re-enforce the responsibility of journalists and media houses to uphold the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists – the industry-wide code of conduct for media practitioners in The Gambia.
Babucarr Cham, Chairperson of the MCG, said it was important that journalists and media houses communicate with accuracy and impartiality.
“We need to take our responsibilities in making sure that the message that goes out is clear and it’s important you do it the right way,” Cham said at the beginning of the discussions.
He said the Media Council’s role is to help professionalize the Gambian media and ensure public trust and to protect the reputation of the profession. He also urges editors and media managers to cooperate with the MCG in the execution of its duties.
“…with our collective efforts, we will make it together to promote ethical journalism in the country,” he said. “We took an inclusive approach to involve everyone in the process, we acknowledge that there are gaps to fill and before we fill those gaps, we need to identify them and that is the main purpose of this engagement forum.”
Momodou Dem, Assistant Editor at Foroyaa Newspaper, hailed the initiative by the GPU and the MCG while recognizing the need for editors as gatekeepers in newsrooms to promote ethical journalism.
“I think the Media Council is in the right direction by organising this type of refresher for people like me and my colleague editors to ensure that the ethics, especially the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists, is adhered to in our daily reporting,” Dem said.
The Founder and Manager of Leeral Media, Modou Lamin Joof, said that the engagements are “excellent and timely”. He said the forum was particularly important for the online media, which, in the process of competition and rush, may publish sometimes unverified facts.
“So far, the manner in which some cases are currently going in our courts and the way they are being handled by some online media houses is really not ethical, but addressing that as a team in a dialogue form like this and sharing ideas will definitely help,” Joof said.
Isatou Jallow of Gambia Talents TV said that growth in the media landscape comes with new challenges as new people enter the journalism trade without adequate knowledge of their roles and responsibilities, especially ethical issues.
“We all know that the media industry is growing by the day, and it is also filled with people who are not ethically trained,” she said. “It is the responsibility of the MCG to sensitize on the consequences of unethical reporting which will help to promote ethical journalism.”
The main objectives of the project are to educate members of the media, including media managers, editors, and journalists on the ethics of the profession, their duty to the public, and the role of the MCG; to raise public awareness on the mandate and functions of the MCG as a media regulator; and to improve public trust in the media.
Through the project, the MCG will hold radio & TV talk shows targeted at both members of the public and media workers, and hold workshops and meetings with various media stakeholders.