By Alieu Ceesay,
Secretary General, SJAG
The solicitor general and legal secretary, a keen follower of Gambian sports and sports media was the guest speaker when the Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (SJAG) commemorated the annual International Sports Journalists Day (ISJD) on Saturday at the Sand Beach Hotel.
ISJD is commemorated globally annually on 2nd July.
Delivering a statement on “Sports Press in the New Found Democracy” during a symposium attended by sports journalists, Mr. Cherno Marenah, returned gratitude to SJAG for the invitation to interact with the sports journalists on the celebration of the ISJD.
“I am a big fan of sports and all sports journalists, and that is why I attend your [SJAG] annual national sports awards night. And I am grateful always for the opportunity to interact with you.”
Marenah, who is a keen follower of sports, shared his ideas, experience and what he wants to see happen when it comes to sports reporting. “There is lot of opportunities now for generation of news largely as a result of the internet. And sometimes I listen to some of the sports programs and I crunch because, is more or less a reproduction of Internet news. I think the pitfall of some of these rebroadcast of Internet news is that, we don’t seem to know what is real and what is fantasy,” Marenah shared with the sports journalists.
He urged the journalists to avoid rebroadcasting any news they hear, as some of the news might not be credible, therefore putting the broadcaster’s credibility at stake.
Inspite of the proliferation of local radios in the country, Solicitor General Marenah observed that there is little reportage on local sporting events and athletes. “It is amazing that one can have two hours program and is all based on international stories. You [journalists] need to promote the local sporting events and our athletes.”
He urged the country’s sports journalists to improve on their tool as broadcasters, which according to him, is the mastering of the English Language. “If you want to be good broadcaster, you have to improve on your English Language.”
SJAG has been organizing training programs for its members with the support of the Gambia Press Union (GPU). He went further to encourage SJAG to organize more refresher courses for sports journalists, as there is room for improvement.
According to him, under the system of governance, plans are afoot to repeal some of the bad media laws. However, he calls for responsible journalism.
He suggested the need to have a regulation that would determine who becomes a journalist, citing other professions where not everyone can use the profession before being certified.
Musa Sise, president of SJAG commended the sports journalists for responding to the invitation of SJAG to attend the symposium.
Sise, who is a seasoned sports journalist, reminded the members of being professionals in the execution of their daily sports reporting.
With the advent of social media journalism, he urged members to be more wary of the negativity that comes with the social media journalism where people can write anything with little consideration for the ethics of the profession.
Inspite of the good coming out of the sports press, however, he said, some bad still remain in it, which need to be honestly looked into. He cited the unhealthy competition among sports journalists. “You need to compete with what you do by informing the public of what is necessary and what they need to know.”
Sise, under whose leadership, the SJAG has registered so many achievements, challenged the members to continue improving on what they do. “This is symposium meant for us to talk to each other and reflect on our achievements and shortfalls as sports journalists. So let us make best use of this gathering.”
In a bid to better build the capacity of its members, Sise said SJAG is paying the tuition fees for all the SJAG-registered members who are fortunate to be enrolled at the GPU-School of Journalism.
Sise Sawaneh is the 2nd vice president of the Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia. She reminded her colleagues of the need to disseminate the right information to the public. She said the symposium was a very important one for members to discuss among themselves the development of sports journalism.
The SJAG 2nd VP used the gathering to call on her fellow women to take up sports journalism, while advising sports journalists to avoid abusing the social media.
The symposium was also characterized by comments, questions and suggestion from the sports journalists.
Alieu Ceesay, the secretary general of SJAG chaired the symposium. He thanked Solicitor General Cherno Marenah for honoring the invitation to address the journalists.
The event wrapped-up with the annual fun day out on the beach, where members interacted and had fun as members of the same profession.