By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The President of the Gambia Press Union, Sheriff Bojang Junior said at the opening of a five day Investigative Journalism training ‘we very confident that at the end of this training that all of you out there will go into journalism that is full of impact, that will effect reforms in the country, of course that will name and shame people but then that will also represent the collective needs of the Gambian people’.
The five day training for 20 Gambian Journalists was organized by the Gambia Press Union and supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a German NGO. Gainako’s Flex Dan and three contributors, Adama Makasuba, Juldeh Njie and Muhammed M S Bah attended the training program.
According to Mr Bojang the training is important because of the timing which in his own view is at a crucial time for the country. The Chronicle’s media chief stressed that Gambian Journalists don’t have a problem with going out to seek news but instead what is lacking is having Gambian Journalist going out to hold public officials to account with facts’.
He cited the importance of Journalist breaking barriers reporting beyond the usual straight news and digging deeper to bring out the truth. He also underscored the importance of Journalist going through capacity building training to have a better understanding of how to unveil the truth. This he said could help journalists to understand better, “When lies are told by officials’ journalist can be able to detect it”.
The trainer, South African Investigative Journalist Raymond Joseph advised delegates to take the training seriously. He stressed the importance of the training, noting ‘Gambia is open for business, this means it is also open for corruption. Therefore, Journalists have to be on the watch’. When students decried that Investigative Journalism is costly and time consuming his response was that ‘time and money is very expensive but the new investigative journalism is collaboration. We would never have had the Panama Papers we would never have had the Paradise Papers.’
In urging Gambian Journalists to collaborate Mr Joseph pointed out that ‘there’s a lot of trans-national investigations going on but in this room look around there are colleagues you may have meet, you may know you may not know. Because there’s collaboration between non competing media houses and media. Collaboration between a radio station and print journalism or television station who are not competing. Many hands make light work. We cannot do it on our own. Its too expensive its too time consuming. So I urge you during the breaks during the training get to know one another. And start talking about collaboration’.
Key note speaker, Abdoulie Gassama, Deputy Director for Gambia Radio and Television Services pointed out the difference between Investigative Journalism and what he described as witch hunting. Speaking to the room of journalists he highlighted that investigative Journalism is a great profession but not a witch hunting exercise. In pointing out the difference between police work and journalism Mr. Gassama highlighted that Investigative Journalism is not police work, but one has to have a Journalism background to do it right.
According to the GRTS Deputy Director he has “not seen any serious Investigative Journalism in this country”. He noted that the training session will help build capacities of Journalists to engage into serious investigative Journalism. Turning his attention to Social Media, Mr Gassama highlighted that the advent of social media has inundated the public with a lot of information, most of which in his view is fake.