The Gambia Press Union (GPU) in close collaboration with the University of the Gambia (UTG), commenced a two month training for twenty five journalists on Investigative Journalism. The training which is expected to be intensive for four days of the week, is supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). The project will be implemented by both the GPU and the University School of Journalism, in theory and practice.
Lamin Jahateh, an executive member of the GPU, said a special curriculum was developed by experts, with up to the standard modules. "So you will be given a University level training in two months," he told participants. He urged participants to be committed to the training. Jahateh said fifty people applied and all application processes went through a panel of experts who vetted and selected the twenty five participants. Jahateh added that the other twenty five will be privileged to attend the next training, on Court reporting; that the training will consist of trainers from both the UTG and GPU Schools of Journalism, as well as other private international trainers; that the project is supported by OSIWA to the tune of 2.8 Million Dalasi.
Saikou Jammeh, GPU Secretary General pointed out the lack of effectiveness of the media in the previous dispensation. "When the new Government came, what the GPU did was to assess the media environment in terms of laws, strong institutions and capacity of journalists," he disclosed; that after the assessment, they produced a comprehensive media sector reform framework for the country, citing the commitment of the former Information Minister, towards the process.
Dr. Samba Faal, a trainer and UTG lecturer, assured participants an effective deliberation. He urged them to make the best use of the opportunity of meeting with people he referred to as, "well experienced experts of trainers."
In his keynote address, Ebrima Sillah, the New Minster of Information, said he is committed to media reform, set aside by his Ministry and headed by his predecessor.
He express appreciation of being invited by the GPU and UTG, to officially launch the fifteen Month programme on Investigative Journalism for Democratic Governance and Inclusive Development.
The Information Minister said the Gambian media like other state institutions, are in transition to adapt to the rapid changing environment.
He commended the organizers for having the foresight of putting in place a curriculum, geared towards creating what he calls quality investigative journalism. This he said, will foster a more robust economic environment for the independent and professional media.
The information Minister expressed the hope that the fruit of the skills acquired, will be in newspaper pages and electronic media programs.