Which “journalists” wanted to sell the President?
Is the GPU leadership going to write to the President through the Director of Press and Public Relations seeking clarification about the president’s claim that some journalists approached him to offer him good media coverage in exchange for money?
I think GPU should do that lest we allow a space to emerge in which the reputation of journalists and the media be impugned. If this statement remains unchallenged one cannot ascertain how it might unfold in another scenario in future where someone else may also decide to levy unsubstantiated allegations on journalists just to gain cheap popularity or shield oneself from scrutiny.
GPU must convene either a press conference or issue a statement expressing its concern about the president’s allegation and demand clarification.
We need to know if indeed those so-called journalists that approached the president are indeed journalists or mere individuals seeking to do business through the media.
Not everyone who works in the media such as writing in newspapers or speaking before a microphone or camera in a radio or television studio or producing media products is a journalist. Hence the need for GPU to demand the president to clarify so that we protect the reputation, function and the public image of journalists.
If indeed those people are journalists then GPU should be in a position to take disciplinary action. GPU has a code of conduct and journalism is based on ethical standards that must be upheld at all times by all journalists.
To take money from public officials in order to provide good media is unethical which is not journalism. To engage in media work just to sell a particular ideology or politician or government is propaganda which is not journalism. To provide only favorable or positive media coverage for a particular political figure or institution or company is a public relations function which is not journalism. In a nutshell Journalists are neither propagandists nor public relations officers.
We must bear in mind that the role and responsibility of the media is already stipulated in the constitution hence anything that seeks to undermine or distort that function must be challenged. The allegation by the president potentially undermines the constitutional role of the media because the allegation has dented the credibility of journalists.
This allegation plus the case between OJ and Kerr Fatou among others indicate the new threats facing Gambian journalists. GPU and journalists must not rest so long as these incidents are prevalent.
Gambia’s development aspirations will remain as
wishful thinking if the relationship between state
and civil societies is not positive
Civil society according to Thomson A (2010) can be defined as organisations that arise out of voluntary association within the society, found between the extended family and the state; any organised group beyond the family, but not part of the state’s apparatus can be regarded as civic society.
The principal role of civil societies is simply to deter state managers from monopolising the political power and processes, promoting development and holding government accountable. Thus; they both cooperate and challenge government to ensure these important roles are effectively played.
The Gambia could have turned into Dubai or Singapore as prophesied by both Jammeh and Jawara in their beautiful blueprints if the civil societies were very well empowered and respected or had a more positive relationship with them. As Jammeh and Jawara’s beautiful visions became wishful thinking, I am afraid Jammeh’s successor, Adama Barrow’s promises and prophesies also will be wishful thinking if he maintains the strange relationship with civil society especially those that are critical of some of his bad governance.
Most of advance democracies and developed countries were able to register major achievements due to positive relationships between them and civil societies.
The trajectory of African politics clearly shows the importance of civic societies in developmental processes from bringing down colonialism, ending brutal and repressive regimes. In South Africa for example, when black political parties were marginalised, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stood up against Apartheid, in Malawi, Archbishop James Chiona challenged the self perpetuating regime of Hastings Banda when opposition parties were marginalised, and Union des syndicates des Travailleurs du Niger (USTN) and Zambian Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) both put immense pressure to their countries political elite to embrace multiparty democracy. In the Gambia, civic societies rejected Jammeh’s attempt to subvert the 2016 election after his defeat in the polls.
These clearly tell you that the state cannot register its development aspirations without civil societies and development aspirations will be also be wishful thinking if the state has a negative relationship with the civil societies.