The Newspaper Publishers Association of the Gambia (NEPA), was on Thursday October 25th 2018, launched at a hotel in Bijilo. NEPA is meant to empower Newspapers in the country to ensure professionalism and safeguard of the ethics of the profession, by guarantee that newspapers are accessible to every person so that they can have information and knowledge of what is taking place in the public domain, in a democratic society.
Samuel Sarr, the Chairperson of NPA said there are a few number newspaper publishers in the Gambia, but they play a very significant role; that they are at the forefront of disseminating news to the citizenry "We need to play our role and the government also has a role to play. A government in office is obliged to serve the people to build infrastructure and provide services such as education, health, and agricultural services etc., to provide the enabling environment for the democratic dispensation and so on," he said; that on the other hand, a major role the media plays is to hold government accountable to the people; that this role is made explicit in Section 207 subsection (3) of the Gambian Constitution. "The press and other information media shall at all times, uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of the Gambia," he quoted.
He said the media and Government are neither enemies no bed mates; that each is simply playing its role because every democratic government interested in serving the people and preserving and expanding democratic values, will not hesitate to conduct itself in a transparent and accountable manner. Sarr said media development is inconceivable without media freedom and freedom of information; that in this regard, "our voice will also be heard in the promotion of media freedom and freedom of information. Democracy needs the media and cannot flourish without it. Through the media, the facts are made known to the public and the evil deeds of criminals, exposed. People can make informed choice. When the Government is held accountable to the people, they can freely express their opinion publicly." Sarr concluded that the print media will surely play it's part in the promotion of democracy, good governance, human rights and rule of law.
Ebrima Darboe, a representative of the Ministry of Information said Government under the new dispensation, fully recognizes the critical role the media (newspaper) play in the development process of the country; that they have taken giant strides towards ensuring a conducive environment for the media to play this role, without any undue interference from the State; that the Government of the Gambia is aware of the rising dynamism in the country, as far as freedom of expression is concerned, "I want to assure you, that this administration does not and will not at any point, revert to the deplorable tactics of censorship and other unjust practices done by the past regime," he said; that Government is committed to support and nurture home bred journalists and media practitioners, and embraces and works with the media (newspaper), in the quest towards the realization of the national development goals as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
Professor Pierre Gomez In his statement said the work for a journalist is an essential ingredient in educating the masses. He however said that we must not lose sight of the fact that sacred duty could be compromised when certain ethical issues are not put under check.
Therefore, it is apt for an institution of this kind to be put in place in order to provide professional guidance and functional coaching for young and emerging journalist, to enable them avoid the pitfalls associated with the profession.