By Cherno Omar Bobb
Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) on Wednesday commenced a 3-day human rights and COVID-19 reporting training for 38 Gambian journalists.
The theme for the training, being held at Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) hall in Kanifing, is mobilizing media to help fight COVID-19.
The aim of the training is to contribute to international public health efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on human rights, in particular women and girls’ rights.
John Charles Njie, chairman of Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Coalition said the times call for journalists to be versatile but also be well trained and equipped for the journey ahead. He pointed out that COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise, noting that it has devastating effects and impact on the country. He stated that it is important for journalists to be aware and equipped to disseminate information responsibly as they can make or break a society.
Mr. Njie went on to say that one of the challenges of the time is that there is so much sentimental journalism with journalists wanting the hottest news and being the first to break the news. He therefore highlighted the need for responsible journalism, particularly this year that the Gambia will be holding presidential elections.
Mr. Njie called on journalists to always remember that the rights to privacy, expression and association are protected. He therefore called on journalists to ensure their stories always had human rights protection angles. “Do not be jungler or mercenary journalists”, he advised, while thanking the Gambia Press Union (GPU) for training journalists over the years.
In his turn, Muhammed S. Bah, vice president the GPU said COVID-19 has killed a lot of people globally including the Gambia. He noted that more often journalists reproduce press releases issued by the ministry of health, adding that the stories should go beyond reporting the number of positive cases and deaths.
Mr Bah said reporting on how the pandemic has impacted the lives and livelihood of those affected and their families will help the government shape its policy directions towards addressing those issues. He thanked the organizers of the training and urged participants to take the training seriously to improve human rights reporting as well as COVID-19 sensitization.
Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is Canada’s leading media development organization and trains journalists to report on human rights and governance issues in their communities. It was founded in 2002 and based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The organization’s vision is for everybody in the world to access their human rights.