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Training on Crime and Court Reporting for 40 Journalists Opens Monday

Jun 5, 2023

reporters on court reporting
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) in collaboration with the Young Journalists Association (YJAG) on Monday (June 5, 2023) began a training on crime and court reporting for 40 journalists.

With support from the Dakar-based Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), 20 reporters are being trained from 5-6 June and 20 editors will be trained on the same topics from June 7-8, 2023. Participants are drawn from radio, TV and online media platforms.

Some of the topics to be dealt with during the training include journalists’ role in crime and court reporting (balancing objectivity and sensitivity, other ethical considerations, rights to a fair trial, and court reporting experiences)

Other topics include court procedures and processes (with an overview of Gambia’s legal system and court hierarchy, civil and criminal cases, legal considerations and media laws, court etiquettes, simplifying legal terminologies, and the roles and responsibilities of key court personnel).

Participants will also be taken through lessons on pre-trial publicity (covering the police, courts & writing crime and court stories, analysing and presenting crime data, and the responsible use of images).

Following rising concerns of unethical practices in crime and court reporting last year, including exposing the identities of minors involved in rape and manslaughter cases, the GPU and YJAG deemed it necessary to conduct these trainings in order to improve professional standards on ethics and story presentation as it relates to crime and the courts.

It is expected that at the end of the training participants will demonstrate an enhanced ability to report on crime and court proceedings accurately and responsibly, and also have a deeper understanding of legal terminologies, court processes, and adhere to ethics related to crime and court reporting. It is also expected that they would be able to better present news stories in fulfilling their journalistic roles of informing and educating the public.

“Training reporters and editors on crime and court reporting is crucial to the GPU’s mission of enhancing professionalism in the Gambian media industry,” GPU President, Muhammed S. Bah, said in his welcome remarks.

Bah said to avoid misreporting or the misrepresentation of facts in crime or court cases, reporters and their editors need to understand the various important topics to be treated during the training and apply the knowledge and skills gained in their day-to-day reporting.

The President of YJAG, Yankuba Jallow, said crime and court reporting is a thematic specialisation and journalists need the requisite knowledge and skills to be able to effectively and adequately report on these subjects, and in full respect of the professional standards involved.

“I will encourage you (the participants) to actively engage the trainers in order to gain the required knowledge and skills to report on issues related to crime, civil and criminal proceedings,” Jallow said.

In his keynote statement, the Chairperson of the Media Council of The Gambia, Baboucarr Cham, made reference to Article 14 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides for “the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law”.

“In crime and court reporting, it is very important for journalists to respect the presumption of innocence of a person accused of committing a crime until they are found guilty by a court of law,” Cham said.

Cham also urged journalists to respect the Cherno Jallow Charter of ethics for Journalists – the industrywide code of conduct for media workers in The Gambia. “The media is a communication tool with a potential to influence society positively or negatively, and it requires media professionals to adhere to their ethical standards and to avoid unethical practices,” he said.

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