23 April 2019

Gambia Gains Recognition On Press Freedom

Kudos to The Gambia on its remarkable performance on press freedom as this year marks a remarkable progress on press freedom in latest RSF index world ranking regrouping. Out of 180 states, The Gambia is ranked 92 for the year 2018. In 2017, The Gambia was ranked 122.

In 2017 The Gambia was ranked 34th in Africa and in 2018, it became ninth among the 48 states member. Gambian journalists should be commended for their professionalism and commitment to press freedom; despite their numerous challenges including finance, cost of printing materials and the running cost in general and delay in subscription payment by government, the media is maintaining its stance by informing the society.

All these challenges have directly or indirectly hampered the productions of our news outlets and they should be addressed immediately.

Barrow's government should be given credit by giving journalists an enabling environment to do their job without interference as in line with their editorial policies. Since he assumed office in January 2017, there was no single arrest of journalist, no killing or arson against media houses as it used to happen in the previous regime.

The Education levy that required media houses to pay D100,000 has been abolished effective this year, and the media houses especially the print are very grateful to the Barrow administration for that.

The advent of more radio stations and licences for private TVs has been noted and most of private radios including Radio Gambia and Fatu Network are doing press review which was not happening before in the past regime.

GRTS is now allocating air time to the opposition which was not happening before. In a nutshell considerable efforts on press freedom have been noted with access to information to the private media.

Press releases are frequently issued from the Office of Director of Press and Public Relations and journalists are allowed to cover events at State House. All these were not possible during the past regime. Now, the government's immediate action should be; to abolish draconian media laws, ensure early payment of bills to media houses and provide more training for journalists.

Friendly countries should also help media houses with equipment to promote democracy, good governance and rule of law.

Government should continue to promote cordial relations with the media and journalists should be always objective and avoid 'fake news.' They should verify information before publishing or broadcasting stories.

The role of the media is to inform, educate and entertain the public, promote peace and unity and always give credit where it's due.

"Work hard, no matter how much recognition you get."

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