Gambia’s Information Minister picks issues with media

Accuses media of under reporting government achievements

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By Sanna Camara

The government of the Gambia has been registering achievements in meeting development needs and target of the populace, yet much of these have gone unreported in the media, says Gambian Minister of Information Nana Grey-Johnson.

In addressing journalists at a policy dialogue forum held at TANGO headquarters yesterday as part of the press freedom day commemorations, Mr. Grey-Johnson says, “There is much in evidence that the government is producing results.”

He cited the state opening of the national assembly by the President two months ago as an example of such under-reporting:

Speech themed with headline thoughts

“I find a hundred headlines for article that could have been written from the address by the President, delivered to the nation through the national assembly in March, outlining the development agenda for the coming legislative year. The speech themed with headline thoughts, which have hardly filtered into the coverage of national papers,” the Minister indicted.

Minister even listed several possible headlines from this event, referring to them as part of government’s agenda. “That is government’s agenda; what is yours?” he asked of the journalists.

“There are success stories waiting to be told, so that reporting is not about waiting with mobile telephones in the newsroom for political scandal, a press release, or a speech from a workshop,” he further charged.

Success stories waiting to be told

The Gambia’s recently won gold medals and broke African records in athletics in the sub-region. “Why have our front pages not celebrated with big colour pictures and blazing headlines, so that the readership begin to get used seeing the positive images of gold trophies in the hands of Gambians?” he quizzed.

“But I guess, a mother in Central River Region reaching a clinic on time by donkey-cart ambulance so that she did not die of child birth, is not the kind of story that will sell newspapers. But see how important that story is to our development objectives but which goes unreported,” the veteran journalist and writer, who became minister few weeks after being contracted to write President Jammeh’s biography, pointed out.

“For me, these are development issues which should fire the imagination of the editor-in-chief: my reporters would have been there interviewing a pregnant mother from the far-flung places to see how she covers those five kilometers to the health center, and who receives her.  And all the medical attentions she will receive for D5,” he said.

 

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