GPU, UTG kick off two-month investigative journalism course

By Bakary Manneh, GPU Intern

The Gambia Press Union and University of The Gambia have started a two-month training on investigative journalism funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The training was officially opened by the Minister of Information and Communications Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah on Monday, 16 July, at the School of Journalism of the University of The Gambia in Kanifing.

The course is being attended by 25 journalists who were selected out of a total of about 50 candidates who applied to be part of the training.

Information Minister Sillah said the training would ensure that journalists in The Gambia are equipped with the necessary reporting skills in different areas.

“The Gambian media, like the rest of our state institution, are in transition and are trying to adapt to a very rapidly changing environment,” he said.

“As such, I commend the GPU and the UTG for the foresight and pro-activeness in putting in place a curriculum geared towards creating quality investigative journalism which will foster a more robust economic environment for independent and professional media.”

A journalist himself, Mr Sillah said investigative reports bring credibility, adding that training journalists on investigation would be an important landmark in adhering to the true values of democracy and good governance.

The GPU Secretary General Saikou Jammeh said that the Gambian media is still confronted with the leftovers of the repression of the past.

“Up till now, some trained journalists who had fled the country during the Jammeh regime are yet to return; there has been very slow pace in recovery of the media from the ruins of its economy and institutions,” he said.

“The media bear the brunt of the brutalities of the government [of Yahya Jammeh] and journalism wasn’t as effective as it ought to be.”

Mr Jammeh pointed out that there has been very little critical news analysis and well informed commentary among Gambian journalists not to talk about investigative journalism hence the importance of the training.

The two-month training funded by OSIWA through a one-year project that the GPU and UTG are jointly implementing is meant to produce well-trained and well-mentored investigative journalists.  The objective is to encourage specialisation in the field investigative journalism.