June 20, 2023: The Gambia Press Union (GPU) facilitated a daylong Workshop conducted by Reporters sans frontières (RSF) / Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) for Media Publishers and Managers in The Gambia.
The workshop, coordinated by the GPU, is intended to promote a healthier information space with the development and implementation of indicators for trustworthiness of journalism, and to promotes and reward compliance with professional norms and ethics.
The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) is a market-driven solution aimed at promoting the credibility of quality journalism and transforming it into a tangible competitive advantage.
The workshop highlighted the importance of adopting the JTI for media publishers and managers in The Gambia and outline the incentives and benefits it offers. The JTI provides an inclusive transparency and compliance tool applicable to newsrooms of all sizes and types worldwide.
By conforming to the JTI standards, media outlets can optimize their editorial processes, performance and ethical conduct – giving them a competitive edge. The initiative allows media houses to engage in trustworthy journalism, to stand out from the competition, and to be recognized as one of the most credible media sources globally.
“The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) is about our self-regulatory solution,” RSF’s Sub-Saharan Africa Head, Sadibou Marong, said. “The JTI is a market-driven solution to promote the credibility of quality journalism – and to turn it into a tangible, competitive advantage.”
The JTI is being implemented since 2018 around the world and since 2021 in Africa but mostly French-speaking Africa. Gambia is the first English-speaking country where RSF is engaging publishers and media managers to bring them on-board. JTI has one media certified in Niger and RSF is expecting more than 15 others in different countries such as the DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Tunisia – out of a total of over 300 media outlets involved across the continent.
Gambia’s Minister of Information, Lamin Queen Jammeh, commends the initiative. He said that promoting trustworthy journalism is necessary and important because the media are change agents.
“What is very important is the quality of service the media provides to the public,” he said. “The more quality reports, the more professional you are, the more you gain the trust and confidence of the public.”
The GPU Secretary General, Modou S. Joof, said his institution was happy to be associated with the activity because it relates to the numerous efforts of the Gambia Press Union to enhance professionalism in the Gambian media.
“Most of our activities in recent years, the trainings on ethical journalism and the engagements with media managers, editors and reporters, through the Media Council of The Gambia (MCG), are meant to enhance professionalism and create public trust in the media,” he said.
“The GPU also set up the MCG, a self-regulatory mechanism, for members of the public to hold journalists and media houses to account on ethical violations.”
The Director of Press and Public Relations, Amie Bojang-Sissoho, highlighted the various roles that the media plays, such as sharing information to educate both society and the government on policies and programmes and how they impact on the lives of the people, and by promoting the democratic processes, allowing all views to be fairly represented to advance society and influence policy decisions.
“Therefore, our affinity as media publishers, editors, reporters and commentators should not blur our professionalism and the core principles of informing, educating and communicating with society and media stakeholders. This would build trust, the main talking point of this workshop,” she said.
Pap Saine, the Dean of RSF Correspondents in West Africa, commended the Gambia government for creating a friendlier environment for journalists that have seen improved rankings year-on-year of the Gambia in the RSF World Press Freedom Index.
Saine, who is also a Co-founder of The Point Newspaper, commended RSF for bringing the JTI to the Gambia and the GPU for coordinating the workshop.
As a one-of-a-kind official ISO-type Standard, the JTI is certifiable by means of optional third-party audits, and it is machine-readable to feed into algorithmic indexation and recommender systems (social media feeds, search ranks, programmatic advertising) to enhance visibility, and eventually sustainability, of trustworthy sources of information.
The 18 standard clauses cover the institutional and process level of journalistic production, including specifications on ownership transparency and editorial guidelines, covering independence, accuracy and correction policies for example.
Currently 100+ media outlets are implementing this instrument along the different stages, including RTÉ News, Exit News Albania, SWI swissinfo.ch, France Télévisions or CBC/Radio-Canada.
During a presentation, Marc Aboflan, RSF’s Africa Regional Manager of the Journalism Trust Initiative, introduces the Initiative to Gambian media publishers and managers and provided guidance on aligning existing editorial processes, performance, and ethical conduct with JTI requirements.
It is expected that media publishers and managers will adopt and implement the JTI standards to encourage trustworthy journalism.