Thunderclap from a cloudless sky:
The journalist, politician and the audience
The past few weeks have been very eventful as far as Gambian media is concerned. There have been punches, counter-punches and no shortage of sentimental populism from the phone box. The latest were the Sultan Jammeh face-off with Mai Fatty and Kerr Fatou’s Fatou Touray and APRC’s Rambo Jatta .
Expect more fireworks between now and December. Until then, here are few random things I would like to share:
1. The politician-journalist relationship is both adversarial and symbiotic. It provides the backdrop for diverse ethical issues with which journalists must grapple
2. The way the media affects audiences is generally limited by social and psychological filtering mechanisms. Audiences , especially politicians and their supporters will resort to their own psychological filtering mechanisms: elective attention, selective perception, selective retention, selective recall are things that will continue to happen.
3. Rich narrative to one reader is blurred facts to another. The headline that compels one to enter the story may strike another as a hopelessly hyped clickbait for another
4. Journalism is not what it used to be – weaponized social media, hate speech, trolling and their attendant communication chaos will continue to shroud serious conversations. However, the journalist must do the work with a stamp of legitimacy, bearing in mind the ethics of the trade.
5. Where there is power, there also is counter power. The journalist is one well placed individual society relies on to hold the feet of powerful politicians to the fire
6. The media should not do for political operatives any bidding but to the politician also is owed the duty to report fairly . At the end of the day, to the voter lies the highest responsibility
7. Being media savvy is not the same as being media literate. Not everyone who reads or watches a show deciphers it with a critical mind. Therefore, Journalists must be prepared to deal with the slings and arrows the work sends their way
8. Solid reporting that informs the public and leads to political reform might seem to be journalism at its best. But some people took exception to the journalists’ zeal. Among them was President Theodore Roosevelt, who at first had considered these same reporters to be his allies. By 1906, he was angry with them, and in a famous speech dubbed them “muckrakers,” a term he meant to be anything but complimentary. Remember that Mai Fatty too had a breakfast sesh with the press just a month or two ago
9. “Public faith in the news media is unlikely to be maintained if the press is perceived as a rogue elephant, trampling on whomever it wants, whatever it wants “-Philip Seibs
10. Gambian journalists must remain IMPARTIAL but in this period of polarized politics, it appears the good journalist is the eyes of party supporters is the one that says what they wanna hear. Join-The-List tag will be applied to even the very best as long they say what ruffle feathers.