The deputy leader of the APRC, Ousman ‘Rambo’ Jatta has labelled the majority of Gambian journalists as UDP supporters.
In a wide-ranging interview with Fatou Touray of Kerr Fatou online portal aired Thursday night, among other things, Mr Jatta directed his ire at The Standard newspaper: “Look at The Standard newspaper, anything bad or worse about the APRC will be carried in the front page. Forgetting that Sheriff [Bojang, the proprietor] and Yahya Jammeh were once close. I’m not saying that he should be on the side of Yahya Jammeh but if at all it was me, I’d have known how to write certain things on the front page. The way they do it sometimes, it is deliberate to provoke us. Ask him [Sheriff] how many times have we called him directly [to complain].”
The Bakau politician who supported Sheriff Dibba’s NCP in the First Republic before becoming a UDP executive member and ultimately becoming one of the most ardent supporters of Jammeh’s APRC further claimed: “Most of Gambian journalists in this country are UDP sympathisers. First, the way [they] label [their] stories; second most of our programmes, they deliberately fail to attend whether they are invited or not. But once they say there is a problem in the APRC, everybody is interested.”
Reacting to Mr Jatta’s accusations, Sheriff Bojang stated: “I am telling Mr Jatta and any other politician that The Standard was not, is not, and will not be in the business of deodorising the news for any personal reasons or pander to the ego of any politician. I served at the pleasure of President Jammeh as information minister for two years but that will not in anyway affect the way The Standard reports its news. I, like the editors and reporters on the paper, have various degrees of relations with most of the political leaders in this country but that will not in anyway, adversely or favourably, influence the way we carry stories. Every day, we carry headlines that a political party does not like. And often a member of the party would call to complain. Even when I was a minister that happened quite often. But that is the nature of journalism. I do not control the reporters or censure the editors. Even if I want to, they will not allow me to. They are quite an independent bunch.
“I presume the members of the editorial staff of The Standard support all kinds of parties in the country. Privately or publicly, I always exhort them, as a rule of the thumb, not to allow personal considerations upend their professionalism in their work. Generally, we pride ourselves in writing the news as best as we could without malice or favour. Sometimes we make mistakes and we publicly apologise for them. What we do is try to give everyone a voice and amplify that voice and leave our readers to decide. We respect and value our readers too much to do what Mr Jatta implied. I’d rather shut up shop and go tend to my cows at Brikama Dewru than garnish the news because I served as a minister under Jammeh or because Darboe’s sister is married to my uncle or that Barrow and my brother were mates in Brikama.”