By Olimatou Coker
The Gambia Press Union in partnership with the Media Council of The Gambia (MCG) last week organized a day-long engagement forum for 15 media managers and chiefs on the ethics of journalism and the role of the Media Council of The Gambia as the independent regulator.
GPU and MCG are implementing a project on ‘Strengthening the Media Council of The Gambia and Consolidating the Self-Regulation of the Gambian Media.”
The MCG was established by the Gambia Press Union in December 2018 as an independent self-regulatory mechanism for addressing public complaints against the conduct of journalists.
The project is funded by the Civil Society for Development (CISU) to raise public awareness of the mandate and functions of the Media Council of Gambia as the independent regulator of the media.
The objective is to engage media managers on the ethics of the profession, their duty to the public, and the role of the MCG in ensuring that the media upholds their duty and respects the ethics of the media profession.
Speaking, Baboucarr Cham, the Chairman of the Media Council of The Gambia, said it is important to bring together key players, including the media chiefs, publishers, and others to discuss issues pertaining to the welfare of media partitioners in the Gambia.
Chairman Cham highlighted issues such as fake news and bad reporting as factors to be addressed.
“The idea of this engagement is to bring together stakeholders such as media managers to discuss ethical concerns and promote adherence to the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists.”
He added that they expect media managers and editors to ensure that ethical standards are known and reinforced in newsrooms to promote higher expectations of our commitment to mitigate the sad tendencies of modern times.
Muhammed S. Bah, President of The Gambia Press Union, emphasized that the media plays a key role in the peace and stability of the country.
“The forum avails an opportunity for journalists to uphold ethical principles guiding their profession and for them to be aware that they can be held accountable for ethical breaches through the Media Council as an independent regulator.”
President Bah also added that the media plays a key role in consolidating democracy. If the media gets it right, the country goes in the right direction, but if the media gets it wrong then we have chaos.
He said that research by the GPU and the University of The Gambia Students’ Union on hate speech shows that the media is being used as a platform to propagate hate speech, “which is dangerous”.
The GPU President said media managers have a responsibility to establish in-house mechanisms to avoid ethical violations and address them where they arise.
“A media house should have a policy that will ensure that anyone who is using their platform will not use abusive languages, is not attacking others based on personal sentiments, to spread hate speech,” he said.
Also speaking, Madi Jobarteh, a member of the MCG Ethics Panel, said that ethics are important not just in journalism, but in every trade. “In some sense, what distinguishes a professional journalist and the rest sometimes is not the tools you have or the knowledge you have or the skills you have, but actually the amount of ethics that you abide by,” he said.
The main objectives of the project are to educate members of the media, including media managers, editors, and journalists on the ethics of the profession, their duty to the public, and the role of the MCG; to raise public awareness of the mandate and functions of the MCG as a media regulator, and to improve public trust in the media.