By Muhammed MS Bah
This is the speech of the President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) on the opening ceremony of a training on Conflict Sensitive Reporting and Countering Hate Speech Facilitated by International Press Centre (IPC) in Lagos supported by UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar.
Good Morning, Honourable Minister, Deuptising the SG, Representatives of IPC-Lagos, Rep UNESCO Dakar, Ms Saraphine Wakana UN Resident Coordinator, And Colleague Journalists.
The Gambia Press Union, wish to express our gratitude to the partners who organized this very important and timely training.
As I was made to understand that the training is targeting 50 Gambian journalists who will be trained on Conflict Sensitive Journalism and Countering Hate Speech which includes Fact-Checking.
This is timely, and highly important because the Gambia came from a Presidential Election and during the campaign, we have seen how politicians were spreading hate speech and some media amplifying it. However, I would want to commend some of our colleagues who decided not to entertain any form of Hate speech and by extension flagging it.
Now that we are approaching the National Assembly Election which is slated for April 9th, 2022, I believe the media have more work to do in ensuring that Hate Speech is countered and also making sure there is continuous fact-checking throughout the electoral process.
The media is so significant in ensuring there is a free fair, credible and transparent election through which people can make an informed decision.
As journalists, there is a need to understand a conflict its causes, and the negative consequences it brings to our society. We are also required to know various actors in the conflict and try to be as diverse as possible in our reporting so as not to be seen as biased.
We need to report the facts as Journalists and avoid sensationalizing issues of conflict when they arise. Instead, we should focus on issues that show conflicting parties have a common ground.
While reporting the negative aspects of conflicts, which may include human rights violations, Journalists should also seek ideas about a peaceful resolution to a particular conflict.
As Journalists, we should also seek to amplify the voices of external actors in a conflict who are seeking to find a lasting solution. Such voices could be from Civil society organizations, faith-based leaders, and other influential community leaders.
In conclusion, I wish to encourage participants to take the training seriously by coming to the venue on time, participating in the discussions and exercises, and at the end of the training, please kindly utilize the knowledge and skills gained in Conflict-sensitive journalism and countering hate speech by applying it in your daily reporting.
Watch the opening ceremony of the training in the link below.