The Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy Banjul has continued its ongoing support for the professional development of local journalists with a launch on December 13 of a 12-week program. The project is granted to Banjul-based Insight Training Center, targeting young practitioners. The program is poised to equip participants with requisite skills and tools needed to communicate accurately as well as allow them to report the truth, fairly, credibly and accurately.
Presiding over the launch ceremonies at the Insight’s Training Center in Sinchu Alhagie, West Coast Region, Public Affairs Officer Janel Heird underscored freedom of expression as a fundamental right and said all governments have a commitment to uphold this.
“The situation for journalists then was completely different – they were not free to report the truth, or to criticize the government. Under the harsh media laws, reporters were arrested and imprisoned without charge. In some cases, journalists were even murdered to keep them from reporting the truth. In this environment of fear, journalists were not free to do their jobs, and self-censorship became the practice. What a different environment you face today! In the “new Gambia” freedom of information is respected. Reporters are free to ask the tough questions, investigate the difficult issues, and report on the real challenges that face the country. While the government’s role is to create laws that promote the free exchange of ideas and protect journalists in their quest to report the news, journalists themselves have an important responsibility of their own, and that is to report the truth fairly and without exaggeration,” PAO Heird said at the launching.
This project is the second such short-term capacity development launched by Embassy’s Public Diplomacy to address the capacity deficit inherent in Gambia media sector. These projects support Mission’s key goal of strengthening democratic institutions across The Gambia.