Minister Jawo Discusses Religious Intolerance With Media Chiefs

Minister Jawo Discusses Religious Intolerance With Media Chiefs

The Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MoICI), the Honourable Demba Ali Jawo in consultation with the Gambia Press Union (GPU), Saturday March 10 held an Interface Meeting with media owners and senior media practitioners.

The Minister had proposed to the Union to call an interface, bringing together publishers, broadcasters, community radio station managers, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Dean of the School of Journalism and Digital Media to discuss issues of concern to both MoICI and the GPU, particularly the spreading of religious slurs and the promotion of harmful traditional practices in the media.

The Gambia Press Union also seized the opportunity to further discuss key issues on the proposed setting up of a self-regulatory body as a concrete way forward.

Several attendees expressed their desire to see such initiatives take place more regularly. Though others deplored the fact that the main media on which these slurs generally take place were not in attendance.

From the dean of the School of Journalism and former Minister of Information and Communications, Nana Grey Johnson to several media chiefs, it was clear that professional journalists shared the views and concerns of the Minister that the media should not be used as a platform or tool to sow the seeds of discord in the country.

The Director General of GRTS urged media owners to develop editorial policies that would seek to clarify the roles of the workers, informing the gathering that he has the herculean task of re-introducing these and other reforms within the state broadcaster. Media owners themselves urged their colleagues and editors to further strengthen themselves in their role as "Gatekeepers" and not to allow their media be used to destroy the fabric of Gambian society

Sam Sarr, editor of Foroyaa Newspaper and also chairperson of the Publishers Forum of The Gambia encouraged journalists to serve as watchdogs in the public interest and to remain true to their ideals of informing and educating Gambians. He however further urged them to be very vigilant in not allowing themselves to propagate issues that could lead to conflict.

Ansumana Sanneh, the director general, and Junkung Jobarteh, legal manager of PURA reminded broadcasters that their License Conditions imposes that they at all times broadcast issues that promote national cohesion.

Demba A. Jawo, the Minsiter further indicated that the onus lies on him to revoke licenses but that the does not see himself getting to that stage, hence, the calling of the meeting.

It was agreed that further consultations will be held, particularly with those media, perceived to be continuously publishing/broadcasting information that may in the long term lead to conflict with people of different religious backgrounds.

The Interface Meeting was chaired by the Special Advisor to the Minister, Ndey Tapha Sosseh.