Freedom of expression and information group Article 19 is set to implement a research project on behalf of UNESCO to critically look into media development gaps, including working conditions of Gambian journalists.
The Media Development Indicator (MDI) project which uses the assessment indicator developed by UNESCO few years ago will look into multifaceted manner of media sector. It’s a tool that looks at the media sector in a whole from legislation and media development.
On Friday, the stakeholders met at Kairaba Beach Hotel to launch the Steering Committee that will guide the process.
Dimitri Sanga, theDirector of UNESCO’s Regional Multi-Sectoral Office for West Africa – Sahel said one of the strategic priorities of The Gambia, aligned with SDG 16, is the restoration of good governance, respect for human rights, and the rule of law.
“The MDI assessment is directly concerned with evaluating the development gaps in media sector with a focus on the system of regulation, pluralism and diversity, media as a platform for democratic discourse, professional capacity and supporting institutions, and infrastructural capacity. As such, the MDI process is, in our view, a contribution to the on-going media sector reform in The Gambia.”
Article 19’s Gambian-born West Africa Director, Fatou Jagne told The Chronicle that the project will be looking at how the existing media outlets are structured and their sustenance ability. According to her, it’s important to have many media popping during the transition but that should be sustained in order for democracy to thrive.
“These indicators are very good because it helps stakeholders to be aware of the development in the sector and to gauge where we are in terms of media development and what needs to be done in the future. Looking at the current situation where we are in a process of reviewing laws and policies, it is very important to have an assessment that could help policy makers to critically look at the sector for its growth and the needs of the sector in general.”
She said the project will also look at working conditions of journalists in terms of pay and capacity.
The project takes a multi-stakeholder approach comprised of Gambia Press Union, University of The Gambia, Broadcasting and Publishers Associations and Gambia Bar Association as implementers.
“It is an objective document that we are expected to produce which will help government to look at its policy but also to help the media sector itself because some media outlets are private entities. The private entities need policy framework from the government but there are lot of things that they can do on their own looking at the gaps the report may identify. Some of the recommendations can also be carried forward and implemented by the private sector in the media.”
The project is expected to launch its final research document in July.