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A Self-Regulatory Body to Hold Gambian Journalists to Account Commences Work

Gambian journalists will now have their news content either in publication or broadcast platforms regulated by an independent self-regulatory body set up by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) over ethical compromises.

The media council of the Gambia (MCTG) is tasked with receiving complaints from aggrieved people of any media report and arbitrate between them and the author or respective media house without involving the court system.

The decision of the Council will rely on the media code of ethics launched by GPU.

The Union’s Secretary General, Saikou Jammeh, said a complaint against the media with respect to alleged breach of the code of ethics can be lodged with the Council which is an independent, credible and cost-free mechanism to address concerns.

Saikou Jammeh, Secretary General Gambia Press Union

The past weeks have witnessed the swearing in of the members of the Ethics Panel of the Council who are the arbitrators.

On Thursday, the Council issued a statement announcing that the Panel has started its sittings on the complaints that were lodged at the Secretariat.

“The Panel shall hear, investigate and make its determination in accordance with its Rules of Procedure. The Council wishes to inform the general public that the Secretariat is open and ready to receive complaints on breach of ethical code and conduct by media practitioners and entities.”

Speaking to The Chronicle, the executive secretary of the Council, Junkung Jobarteh, says the institution’s complaint resolution process is cheaper and quicker than full blown civil or criminal litigation.

“The Council shall ensure that media practitioners and media entities practice their trade in accordance with high ethical standards and conducts,” he said.

Junkung Jobarteh

A correspondent for the Dakar-based West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR), Sankuleh Janko, says the Media Council’s coming is long overdue, but anticipated that it’ll ensure purity in the profession.

“It’s going to help us as journalists to know where we should stop and where we should not. In essence, this will guide journalists to publish stories that are authentic. It ensures that it avoids plagiarism as well and in the long run that will make our work very productive and enhance us to produce quality work. It’s very welcomed.”

He believes that the Council will create standard and originality. “For me this is very important. The Media Council will ensure that it’s a disciplinary body that will guide journalists to do their job at the highest standard to ensure that the job is done the way it is done elsewhere.”

“So, for me, it’s welcomed and I hope the reason for its establishment is achieved so that journalism in this country can continue to strive to a higher height.”

The Managing Director of Star FM/TV, Sara Camara, has also welcomed the initiative.

“It’s a very good initiative because the media needs to be regulated. I welcome the initiative quite well. It will help us to know where you go wrong and things that you’ll have to improve on. For me it’s a very good idea,” he tells The Chronicle.

Lamin Cham, a veteran journalist and the editor-in-chief of The Standard newspaper described the initiative as brilliant.

Lamin Cham, photo credit:TRRC

“You have to understand that it’s an opportunity for the press to be able to regulate itself instead of having somebody outside regulating them. That’s the beauty of it. It means that now it’s only the people who know the job of journalists who will be arbitrating between the journalists and the public, not somebody who doesn’t even know the work of the journalists,” he states.

Cham states that the very creation of the institution is in the interest of journalism and the journalists.

Cham did not anticipate much work to be done by the Council, hoping that journalists will live and work by their cardinal principles of truth telling. However, he expected fairness in the Council’s decisions.

“I will assume that the institution will accord a fair hearing to all sides and if journalists and media houses are found to be liable or found to be wanting I think they should be honest enough to own up to errors, mistakes and understandings that may have been brought to the attention of this Council. Overall, I think it’s a good development.”

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