The Chronicle Gambia

Guest Editorial – Understanding The Role Of Information (Media)

To defeat a dictator or an aspiring dictator, you may have to first think like one, and hone in on the most dangerous weapons in the dictator’s arsenal: Information (media) and the law! There’s a reason information is often one of the first casualties of an impending dictatorship!

You see, back in the days, countries had ministries they called ministry of propaganda; that was until propaganda somehow became negative and seen to be outright lies. Then many countries changed the name of their propaganda ministries to “information” or “education.”

Deep into the 2000s, some political parties had a position they called “Propaganda Secretary.” Sadly, many think that the loudest person in the party should be the person responsible for information! Just as the position of spokesperson is sometimes given to people with no background in information (being a journalist does not qualify one to be a spokesperson).

If anyone understands the value of information, it is the PDOIS. From my childhood days up to now, I’ve either listened to cassette tapes or read newspapers about the Party and their core beliefs. Yahya Jammeh’s handlers realized quickly that to pour darkness over Gambians, they had to control the information we get. They tried to shut down Foroyaa to no avail. Then they went after The Daily Observer, deported the owner and with the help of spineless editors that came afterwards, turned it into a mouthpiece promoting the devils agenda. GRTS would soon follow and from its commissioning, there was never a shortage of spineless Directors willing to do the bidding of the dictator!

Even in war, information is used as a weapon. Militaries have special units that are dedicated to information flow. Some have special units that are dedicated to the deception of the adversary through information. Guns may neutralize the enemy soldiers, but information helps hold the ground. Governments use information to control and abuse their citizens by controlling the narrative. They’ll do anything to shut down any narrative that does not align with theirs.

That’s why it’s critical that opponents strategize and have their own information outlets to counter the narrative where it’s false. Importantly, they must stand guard and ensure that the information platform is not tampered with such that it only advances the cause of those in power.

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