Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The Welfare of Young Journalists On The Spot Light
Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Executive Members of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG) last week embarked on a visit to Media Chiefs in the Print Media in The Gambia, the curtsey call on media chiefs is aimed at discussing the plight of young journalists, in various media outlets across the country.
On Monday 18th January, 2010, YJAG Executive called on the Managing Editor of Today Newspaper and the Publisher and Proprietor of the Daily News.
On all occassions, the President of YJAG, Assan Sallah noted that the visit to media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, but rather to discuss with media chiefs about the welfare of young journalists in their various media houses. he called on media chiefs to provide in-house trainings for young journalists, as well as increasing their remunerations, in order to enable them deliver in their news rooms as expected.
He also dilated on YJAG's 2010 Action Plan, in which there are a series of training programmes to hold during the course of this year. Nonetheless, he called on media chiefs to to opffer support to his Association so that they can realise their set targets.

Earlier-on, the Second Vice President of YJAG, Mamadou Edrisa Njie gave a brief account on the history of the Association. he said that YJAG was formed on 16th September, 2007 with the objective of promoting unity among young journalists in The Gambia; provide capacity building and adressing the welfare of its members, among others.
according to him, the motto of the Association is Capacity Building, Duty to Inform and this is what they have been working towards, adding that they are also tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalist into journalism.
He also noted that the Association has a membership of 150 (including practicing journalists and writing clubs in Senior Secondary Schools across the country).
Today - "Not curtailing the freedom of freelancers"
The Managing Editor of Today Newspaper, Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, who thinks everything boils into capacity building, welcomed the call and encouraged YJAG to transform their Association into a study group. He pointed out that his newspaper attaches great importance to the welfare of his reporters and also promised to increase the pay scale of his freelance reporters.
He called on young journalists to work harder and improve on their writing skills. Adiamoh, who believed that some of the issues on discussion need to be taken to a bigger forum, pointed out that he could not talk for other media outlkets but he understands very well that freelancers has the right to write for any media house. "We are not here to curtail the freedom of freelancers," he said.
On the rate of payment, he said: "I don't even know that the Gambia Press Union has its own tariff but I can say that we have achieved a lot because our front page and back page rates are more than that of the Union." He said that in-house trainings can only be judged by the out put of reporters. he also siad: "You cannot talk about pay before work. work before pay, that's how it should be."
Today Boss also added: "The Prophet says that pay the labourer his due before his sweat dries and if you can pay more." Based on this, he said at Today, if freelancers write stories up to D1500, he normally add D700 just to encourage them but freelancers take it as an opportunity to relax an hoped to receive the same amount at the end of the month.
He also argued that any association that those not have an entry requirement dose ont worth its salt. "Any worthy association should have an entry requirement," he challenged YJAG. "I don't want to call but I know one of your executive members who has not written a single story for the past six months and you call yourself a journalist," he stressed.
Daily News - "Young Journalists are the life blood of every newspaper"
The Proprietor of the Daily News, Madi Ceesay described the topics of discussion as important, citing that young journalists are the life blood of any newspaper. He also outlined some of the constraints they face as media chiefs regarding printing cost, nonetheless, he told the the young journalists that he is looking forward to increasing the salary of his staff in order to meet their demands.
According to Mr. Ceesay, for a journalist to excell in this profession depends much on him/herself. If we are going to wait for our media chiefs to improve upon our endeavours then it will not materialise. You are doing a good job by providing trainings for your members, but yours is a short term initiative.
"You should also initiate some long term trainings, such as writing proposals and find funding. You can enroll at least 12 of your members in institutions like Insight Training Centre or Stratford college," he advisaed.
On the pay roll, he argued that Gambia Press Union's recomendations for Front Page D120, Inside 70 and Back Page 90, will be difficult to meet as a newspaper beginner.
Modou Baldeh, a Co-opted Member and Modou S. Joof, Assistant Secretary General of YJAG gave the vote of thanks respectively.
Foroyaa - "Media Chiefs Equally Concerned with the Plight of Young Journalists"
On Tuesday 19th January 2010, YJAG Executive visited the Editor-In-Chief of Foroyaa Newspaper and the Managing Director of the Daily Observer Company.
In response, the Editor-In-Chief of Foroyaa Newspaper, Sam Sarr told the young journalists that media chiefs are equally concerned about the welfare of young journalists, especially freelance reporters in their newsrooms. He spoke at length on the remuneration of freelancers anf assured YJAG that Foroyaa would also look into their case and will increase the salaries of their reporters.
however, he lamented the high cost of newsprint, which he said is very expensive and that newspapers sometimes get few adverts, which is a sourse of revenue generation. He called on YJAG to come up with concrete suggestions so as to adress the issue.
He noted that Foroyaa has given a page to some students who are interested in writing or becoming journalists in the future, to explore their skills in writing. He also informed YJAG that in-house trainings are conducted for Foroyaa reporters and they will continue with it. He also called on young journalists to stick to the code of ethics of the profession, so as to become professionals in their job.
Daily Observer - "We will support as long as you do not deviate from your mission statement"
The Managing Director of The Daily Observer, Pa Malick Faye
reiterated his commitment towards supporting YJAG, saying: "We at the Observer will continue supporting YJAG as long as you don't deviate from your mission statement." He challenge young journalists to redouble their efforts, maintain unity, disagree to agree and do what is best for them.
he also spoke of the incentives provided to young reporters at the Observer Company and promised to redouble his efforts to adress their welfare.
"You should work hard to succeed in life and don't allow any body to put you in trouble," he advised. he also remarked: "You should know the laws within which you operate, respect authorities and uphold the tenets of the profession."
On his part, the Marketing Manager of the Observer Company, Lamin Dibba also commended YJAG for the initiative and advised them to organise training seminars on journalism for ots members. He urged them to observe the code of conduct of journalism and save its good image.
Alhagie Jobe, the Derputy Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Observer noted that staff and freelance reporters at the Observer Company are well taken care off. He said that reporters should be well organised in terms of coverage and avoid having conflicts of interest over cfertain coverages.
He charged young journalists to be concentrating more on trainings, especially their in-house trainings so as to develop their capacities.
Demba Kandeh, the Public Relation Officer YJAG Delivered the vote of thanks.
The Voice - "Speak with One Voice, be the nursrey bed of journalism"
On Wednesday 20th January 2010, YJAG Executive called on the Editor-In-Chief of The Voice Newspaper and the Publisher and Proprietor of The Gambia News and Report Magazine.
The Editor-In-Chief of The Voice Newspaper, Musa S. Sheriff challenges YJAG Executive to strengthen the unity among their members, speak with one voice and avoid any interferance that would detract them from their aims and objectives, YJAG is reconigsed internationally.
“Speak with one voice, working together is the only ways we can earn respect and dignity among ourselves, in order to gain unity,” he adviced.
while assuring them of his office support and commitment to their course, he noted the young reporters are mainly writing court, sports and workshop stories, citing that investigative journalism is also key and young journalists should venture into it. He also admitted that he knew about the GPU rates per story for freelance journalists, but noted that he do not have a freelancer at the monent.
"Investigative journalism is not all about detentions, arrests etc. There a lot of issues that are of public interest and need to be investigated upon for the benefit of our society. Nobody is an enemy to the government, after our duty to God, the government is there to look after daily affairs, so we should work hand-in-hand," he said.
"The Voice is at a transition, we do not have freelancers and for our reporters we have and will continue to give them what we have, though adverts are not forthcoming. Nonetheless, we will consider their plight," he said.
He also noted that they have been conducting in-house trainings at times and promised to improve on this aspect.
The Managing Editor of The Voice Newspaper, Baboucarr Ceesay believe that YJAG can be a nursrey bed for the proper germination of the seeds of journalism in The Gambia. The plight of young journalist is an important issue.
"It is not only about having the right top express yourt self freely, the profession should also earn you a decent life. I am further inspired to see young journalists so determined," he said.
The Administrative Manager and Wester Region Correspondent of The Voice, Alagie Saidy Faye said the unification of all journalists is very important and commends YJAG for the initiative.
However, he advised them to remain united and always go for things that are inline with their aims and objectives. He also pointed out that 2009 has been a hectic year for Gambian Journalists, citing that this are the times we need to unite strongly and be committed to the profession.
He also said that it is time yopung journalists take it upon themselves to take charge of their own destiny, as their elders have worked hard in all conditions to see themselves through. "I think the elders have done their part and it is left to you to take it upon yourselves to carry on from where they stop," he said.
News and Report Magazine - "Gambia Media is relatively Young, printing materials expensive"
The Publisher and Proprietor of The Gambia News and Rerport Magazing, Swaebou Conateh said that YJAG's initiative is commendable, while stating that Gambia is relatively young in terms of media development.
Going in to history, he said that in 1960, the general feeling was that high school graduate never look forward to taking up journalism as a profession, but at the monent that is not the case.
"I have no regrets in becoming a journalist in the 60s because my contribution to national development is appreciable. this is the job of a journalist, to inform the people and make them to be aware of the issuse happening around them and issues affecting their lives," he said.
He also urged young journalists to stick to the code of conduct, be prepared top work the extra-mile and always be role models because one must go to equity with clean hands. We will do everything possible to promote your aims,we do not have all the resources to meet all your demands, but we will try to meet the payments of the GPU tariffs.
"Your submission will be taken into consideration and we will try to adress them soon," he promised.
He also told YJAG that journalism is a learning process and that they should associate with their colleagues in their offices and in the field. He also said that his office have not been conducting trainings formally, but their reporters have larned on the job and have improved. "Some people have worked with us and have now owned media instutions," she said.
The Vote of thanks was delivered by Mama Faal, the Auditor of YJAG.
The Point - "Propagate good relations with government, abolish draconian laws"
On Thursday 21th January 2010, YJAG Executive called on the Director of The Point Newspaper and the Managing Director of Digest Publications.
The Director of The Point, Pap Saine started by commending the young journalists association of The Gambia (YJAG). He revealed that his office has been paying its staff more than what the GPU has ordered, and in some case he even take care of their social welfare.
He noted that through the GPU, they have been sending their reporters on overseas trainings and are looking forward to improving on their in-house trainings. He also charge young journalists to venture into investigative journalism and not to rely completely on workshop coverages.
Mr. Saine highlighted that media houses are faced with constraints due to the high cost of printing materials, advertisers not paying on time, high sales tax etc. He added that there is the need to progagate good relations with the government, whereas the government in the orther hand should abolish all draconian media laws, and pave the way for the publication of divergent views. "We are here to inform the public, without fear or fabour, illwill or affection and we cannot promote press freedom when our hands are tied," he stressed.
Saine stressed the need for the government to have a spokesperson at the Ministry of Information, open its door in order for the media to be able to discuss with them some of their constraints. "We are independent, we are neither on the side of the government nor on the side of the opposition, we are here for all," he said. He also appealed to the government to open a Journalism Faculty at the University of The Gambia, which he said is long overdue. This will help improve Gambian journalists.
He finally called on YJAG to extent their curtsey call to the relevant authorities to discuss with them the plight of journalists, promote press freedom, hold meetings regularly and task their members to be paying their monthly dues.
He also said that they do not segregate between onl and young journalists at The Point, they will never exploit them and will do whatever they can do for them with their limited resources.
Digest Publications - "A journalist should be creative, be fluent in English"
On his part, The Managing Director of Digest Publication, Mashood Abdousalam Ceesay admitted that YJAGs aim is very impressive. However, he said that the question that keeps ringing is what makes one to call him or herself a reporter.
He said that he has always insisted from the onset that he do not want two or more of his reporters to be attending the same workshop because he don't well come it.
He said that a journalist should be creative, be able to sit and write feature articles that are of interest to the public, rather than attending workshops at all times. "You have to challenge them as well during your meetings, let them adjust themselves. Sometimes when reporters write their stories and you hear them speak, you will be wondering whether they are the ones who wrote those stories because they are not very fluent in English speaking," he argued.
On the welfare of young journalists, he said that it is not easy to run a newspaper, as it is very expensive. However, he assured YJAG that they will consider increasing their pay roll, but if their is an increase in salaries, they should work hard. He also said that his editor usually organise in-house trainings for their reporters.
Nonetheless, Mashood challenged YJAG to create a process where all media houses can host in-house trainings one at a time, and bring together a few reporters from every media house. This will strengthen the unity amongst journalists, he said.
He also informed the touring delegation that Digest Publication (Business and Sports) are non-political newspapers and that they do not want to do anything with politics.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Modou Baldeh and Modou S. Joof, Co-opted Member and Assistant Secretary General, respectively. VOL:2 ISSN:49

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