By Mammy Saidykhan
The Media Council of The Gambia (MCG), in partnership with the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Gambia Media Support (GAMES), on Tuesday held a daylong forum on journalism ethics with media managers.
The August 23, 2022 forum held at the Baobab Hotel in Bijilo was attended by 15 media managers. It is funded as part of a GPU project supported by Civil Society in Development (CISU).
Tuesday’s forum discussed rising ethical concerns among journalists and media houses and promoted adherence to the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists – the industrywide code of conduct media practitioners in The Gambia.
Babucarr Cham, Chairperson of the MCG, said “the idea of this engagement is to bring together stakeholders such as media managers to discuss ethical concerns and promote adherence to the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists.”
“We expect media managers and editors to ensure that ethical standards are known and reinforce in newsrooms to promote higher expectations on our commitment to mitigate the sad tendencies of modern times,” he said.
Muhammed S. Bah, President of the GPU, the forum avails an opportunity for journalists to uphold ethical principles guiding their profession and for them to be aware that they can be held accountable for ethical breaches through the Media Council as an independent regulator.
Bah said respect for journalism ethics will ensure public trust in the media and the work of the Council.
“The media plays a key role in consolidating our democracy. If the media gets it right, the country goes in the right direction, but if the media gets it wrong then we have chaos,” he said.
He said that research by the GPU and the University of The Gambia on hate speech shows that the media is being used as a platform to propagate hate speech, “which is dangerous”.
The GPU President said media managers have a responsibility to establish in-house mechanisms to avoid ethical violations and address them where they arise.
“A media house should have a policy that will ensure that anyone who is using their platform will not use abusive languages, is not attacking others based on personal sentiments, to spread hate speech,” he said.
Madi Jobarteh, a member of the MCG Ethics Panel, said that ethics are important not just in journalism, but in every trade.
“In some sense, what distinguish a professional journalist and the rest sometimes is not the tools you have or the knowledge you have or the skills you have, but actually the amount of ethics that you abide by,” he said.
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 workshops and meetings with various media stakeholders.
The Council will hold a similar forum with editors on Saturday, 27 August, 2022.