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GPU, YJAG Train 20 Journalists On Crime & Court Reporting

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Participants at the training site

By Landing Ceesay 

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Young Journalists Association of the Gambia (YJAG) commenced a two-day training for 20 Journalists on Crime and Court Reporting. 

The training is aimed at addressing the challenges that journalists face while reporting on crime and court cases. At the opening ceremony, Muhammad S. Bah, the GPU President, exhorted Journalists to uphold accuracy in their reporting. He revealed that the training would bolster the media’s safety by honing their craft in court reporting.

“We are organizing this program together with the Young Journalists Association of the Gambia (YJAG). This training is targeting 40 Journalists from both print, online, and also electronic media, which includes TV and Radio.  It will be in twofold. We will have twenty reporters to be trained from 5-6 June 2023. And twenty editors are also to be trained from 7-8 June 2023. 

“We (GPU) believe that we focused mainly on reporters. Mostly, what happens is reporters come with very good reports from the courts and the interpretation is sometimes changed by the editor. Probably because of the language, the understanding, and also the context. It is important not to just train the reporters but however to train editors who will take care of the important reports from the courts,” he said. 

Mr. Bah said some Journalists confuse the High Court with the Magistrates Court in their reporting. 

“Sometimes you will see cases that are before the High Court attributed to the Magistrates Court. Also, the opinions of the lawyers are misinterpreted to be the position of the court. Those kinds of things are contemptuous because you are giving the wrong information, probably based on your understanding,” he said. 

Yankuba Jallow, the President of YJAG, said his association is very happy to associate itself with the GPU to conduct this training on crime and court reporting. 

Mr. Jallow said crime and court reporting is an area that everyone needs specialized skills to do.

“This is not a field you can do without competence. Because you are dealing with the rights and liberty of the people. So, you must know what to put on paper or what to say when you are broadcasting. The objective of the training is to raise the professional competence of Journalists in Court reporting. 

“This is why the GPU and YJAG carefully selected people who have the competence to train you on court reporting. It is very important to take this training very seriously. The program schedule is very attractive, but the most important thing is what you take home,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Babucarr Cham, the Chairman of the Media Council of the Gambia (MCG) said the media requires professionals to adhere to the strictest ethical standards to avoid controversial bad practices that challenge ethics.  

“Can we talk about ethics without talking about values? No indeed. Values are ideas and behaviors that shape an ethical ideal. Personal values are things that are important to individuals that are shaped by one’s specific upbringing, religious beliefs, cultural background, and personal experiences. Social values are things that are comprehensively held by a broader number of people, like a community, that are unique to individuals and thus are not an appropriate basis for professional ethics,” he said. 

Mr. Cham said that journalism ethics are the rules that guide journalists in their behavior, based on what society considers to be right and wrong.

“The MCG is exactly here to make sure that ethical Journalism is given its due, not alone in partnering with GPU and other stakeholders for more capacitation of our media practitioners but also to embark on mediation where necessary between eventual aggrieved individuals or institutions and the media in a conciliatory manner, another milestone to preserving our social cohesion,” he said. 

The training would focus on n introduction to law, Gambia’s legal systems, court processes and procedures, crime reporting, ethics of reporting crime, rules of court reporting, reporting on children, understanding media laws and ethics, and writing court stories.

 The training aims to improve knowledge of the crime and court beat, as well as writing and editing skills.

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