The Chronicle Gambia

Gambia’s Openness to Trade Increases its Vulnerability to Corruption, GPU President Tells Investigative Journalism Trainees

The President of the Gambia Press Union, Sheriff Bojang Jr. has told investigative journalism trainees that the fact that The Gambia is open to trade and investment means it’s also more vulnerable to corruption.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the investigative journalism training organised by the GPU and German NGO KONRAD Adenauer Stiftung, he emphasized the urgent need for investigative journalism in the country.

“In 2017, dictatorship eclipsed into history and in its place we had the new political dispensation. This dispensation brought along trade and investment opportunities. But the more open we are for business, the more vulnerable we are to corruption,” said Bojang who is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Chronicle.

“If you look around, you’ll see the influx of businesses… multinationals and others coming in for trade and investment. You hear about donors giving money to the country and you hear officials talking about where they put the money. This is where investigative journalism matters. It’s your job to pay attention to all these and dig deep and investigate the activities of these businesses and where all these donor funds are going.”

Bojang called on the journalists to take the skills they acquired from the training to their newsrooms and to the streets. “We expect that when the crowd disappears and these hotel doors close, you’ll get to work right away and start scrutinizing and investigating what’s going on in the country, to hold the government and all other stakeholders to account. You owe that to yourselves, your country and your news consumers.”

South African investigative journalist and journalism trainer, Raymond Joseph challenged the graduating journalists to share their knowledge as widely as possible.

“Remember what I said; this is not the end, but the beginning. Take what you have learnt here to the newsroom. Each one, teach one.”

Investigative journalism trainees

According to Joseph, the idea is to use the twenty trainees to teach many others about investigative journalism skills.

The Minister of Information and Communications Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah acknowledged the role of investigative journalism in promoting checks and balances and strengthening democracy.

“Throughout the world, the work of investigative journalists has caused tremendous counter-balance regarding the narratives. The work of the journalists and how they conduct and comport themselves in the way they investigate matters have always interest governments because at the end of the day, it helps policy makers and those critical stakeholders in taking immediate action.”

Sillah said when good investigative journalists do their work effectively, governments and those that are affected by the report always have to do something because by leaving it unattended cause serious issues in society.

However, he warned that investigative journalism is not about blackmailing people or governments, but about seeking and telling the truth.

Thomas Volk, the Resident Representative of KONRAD Adenauer Stiftung called on Gambian journalists to hold the government to account and to ask tough questions in the interest of accountability and transparency.

“It’s about strengthening democracy. That is why we partnered with THE Gambia Press Union to be able to have strong democracy through opinions and strong and confident journalists.”

He however urged journalists to understand that democratization process takes time.

The five-day training program was a response to the need for basic investigative journalism in the country.

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