By Adama Tine
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in partnership with the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Senegal on Monday commenced an 8-day training for 95 Gambian journalists and media workers on “Building Media Capacity: Principles of Election Reporting Training.”
The training being held at Paradise Suites Hotel is aimed at building the capacity of journalists on election coverage, including ethics of election reporting. The trainings also include modules on conflicts sensitive reporting and hate speech so as to adequately prepare journalists on ethics and rules of election reporting.
Journalists would also be trained on how to de-escalate tension that comes with election in a polarized and conflict-prone country like The Gambia.The first set consists of 25 journalists from various media houses.
Muhammed S. Bah, Vice President of GPU said the trainings are designed to offer journalists the requisite knowledge and skills to cover the entire election process.
He said participants would also be trained on general issues related to election.
“The sessions are to be delivered by a mix of local and international bodies,” he said, adding that at the end of the training each of the journalists will be given a copy of Cherno Jallow’s Charter of Ethics for Journalists conduct and certificates of participation.
“As the country goes into the first post-dictatorship presidential elections in December,” Mr Bah said, “GPU recognizes that it is important to build capacity of journalists for them to effectively inform and educate the public when covering the entire election process.”
He further said that journalists and their media houses should work according to the dictates of the code of ethics in order to remain professional to gain public trust in their work.
He noted that the role of journalists in election is broad and does not only stop at informing and educating the public but also provide draft form to various electoral stakeholders to fully participate in the electoral process.
The GPU Vice President said the media has a crucial role to play in ensuring electoral processes are credible and held in free, fair and transparent manners.
Alieu Momarr Njie, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission said the training can only come now when his office is set to conduct the presidential election on 4 December 2021. He said IEC recently conducted a general voter registration and is working towards the final credible voter process. He added that messages are coded from different players in the electoral process and received by different orientation hence the need for diligence, maintenance of peace and stability is required.
Sait Mboob, enterprise officer at United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said his institution is pleased to support the training. According to him, the media plays a critical role during elections such as holding electoral officials accountable and representing the people.
“Democracy in the Gambia is flourishing and developing and journalists are the shepherd as you represent the voice of the people,” he said.