A former newspaper publisher and journalist, now based in the US, has urged the Barrow government to provide subvention to private media outfits like Senegal and other countries are doing.
Alagi Yorro Jallow, the cofounder and publisher of the now defunct The Independent newspaper, who went into exile following the firebombing and closure of his newspaper, stated: “Senegal, like many functioning democracies, gives an annual subvention to the private media to ensure that they get the capacity to carry out their functions of informing the public. Media aid to the private press should not only be maintained, but significantly increased. The private media performs the same function as the state media.
Projecting government action, informing and educating the public, making inputs where it is necessary, calling government attention to specific issues that might have been inadvertently neglected or overlooked, amongst others. There is no one single public policy in which the private media is not involved in the process of informing, sensitisation and education.
“I strongly urge whoever is concerned not only to continue to give the aid to the private press, but increase it five-fold. We must appreciate what government has done so far but at the same time ask for more. In many Francophone countries like Gabon, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, the State continues to support the private media. This doesn’t cancel the fact that the government should also alleviate the sufferings of the private media by removing taxes for instance for printing material. I think this is what we should do.
Whether government should continue to give cash or subsidies printing material, I think the two things should go together.”
Mr Jallow’s statement was contained in a twelve-point proposed list of reforms and recommendations for good governance he issued midweek, which he said, will ensure “the realisation of a just society… and the achievement of the limited and accountable government promised in the new Gambia”.
He also suggested the establishment of an Office of the Press Ombudsman to serve as “part of a system of independent regulation for the print and digital media. The aim is to provide the public with a quick, fair and free method of resolving any complaints they may have in relation to member publications of the Gambia Press Union.
“Anyone can complain about any article that personally affects you, if you think that it breaches the code of practice and ethics provided that all information in relation to the complaint is submitted within a specified of the date of publication of the article.
“One can also complain about the behaviour of a journalist if one feels that this behaviour involves a breach of the code.
“The Office of the Press Ombudsman will, in the first instance, attempt to resolve the matter by making direct contact with the editor of the publication concerned. It will outline the complaint to the publication and seek to resolve the matter by a process of conciliation. If conciliation is not possible, the Press Ombudsman will examine the case and decide.
All information in relation to a complaint must remain confidential until all aspects of the complaints and appeals process are completed,” he stated.