Mr Malick Jones, the deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, presided over the official launch of the code of conduct for journalists in the Gambia.
This was on Saturday May 28, at a local hotel where the Gambia Press Union (GPU), a not-for-profit umbrella body for Gambian journalists, convened a national day of unionism. The event also featured (belated) commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 and maiden National Journalism Awards.
The code of conduct, published in a pocket-size booklet, also contains media guidelines for reporting on gender-based violence and code of conduct for reporting on children’s issues. It is the first of its kind for Gambian journalists.
“I am very proud of the gigantic steps that have been taken by the Gambia Press Union,” DPS Jones told a gathering of journalists, government and security officials, CSOs and diplomatic community.
He added: “Any journalist who has this [booklet] in your hands and you read it thoroughly and you make sure you abide by the principles, you will not run into trouble. I can guarantee that.”
The relationship between media and government in Gambia has sharply deteriorated over the past two decades. However, Mr Jones, who was deputizing his minister, Sheriff Bojang, said his government is interested in a dialogue with the media.
“The government needs the press and the press needs government. What we need to do is dialogue because through dialogue we can always reach an understanding.
“Unfortunately, there must be pitfalls because no road is all rosy. But through dialogue, we can always create an understanding.
“The road is not always easy. This is democracy. Governments in the most democratic countries in the world have problems with journalists. Troubles with the law. These are some of the things that will continue to affect our profession.
“We cannot run away from it but then we will continue to aspire for you to run your trade in the best interest of the people you serve. Governments come and go but the people remain.”