By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia’s UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Seraphine Wakana told journalists and dignitaries at the opening ceremony of a series of “Training on Conflict Sensitive Journalism and Countering Hate Speech,” that she reads FactCheckGambia.org regularly to separate false news from the news.
Ms Wakana delivered the key note speech at Senegambia Beach Hotel on 7th February 2022 in the presence of Information Minister, Hon Ebrima Sillah, the Permanent Secretary at the President’s Office, the President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), the Director of International Press Centre and the UNESCO Advisor.
During her keynote address Ms Wakana noted that hate speech “is not just a problem in The Gambia, but worldwide, and journalists are at the front line in this battle”. Ms Wakana highlighted one of the training initiatives organised by UNESCO to enhance the capacity of Gambian Journalists and the creation of a website which published factcheck articles during the recently concluded 4th December 2021 Presidential Elections.
Ms Wakana recalled that “UNESCO trained journalists on fact-checking and supported the Gambia Press Union to establish The Gambia’s first-ever online fact-checking platform — factcheckgambia.org — a site that” she now regularly visits “to separate fact from fiction in the news”.
The President of the GPU, Muhammed MS Bah highlighted that the training “is timely, and highly important because the Gambia came from a Presidential Election and during the campaign, we have seen how politicians were spreading hate speech and some media amplifying it”.
However, the GPU President took the opportunity “to commend some of our colleagues who decided not to entertain any form of Hate speech and by extension flagging it”.
Urging the media to look forward, Mr Bah said “now that we are approaching the National Assembly Election which is slated for April 9th, 2022, I believe the media have more work to do in ensuring that Hate Speech is countered and also making sure there is continuous fact-checking throughout the electoral process”.
The training targets approximately 50 journalist and is currently on its second batch of reporters. The first batch of the training ended last week Thursday 3rd February 2022 which trained some 25 journalists in this module. This is particularly important in preparing the media for the upcoming National Assembly Elections scheduled to be held on 9th April 2022.
Training for the second batch of journalists commenced on 7th February, 2022 and should conclude on 9th February, 2022. This should bring the total number of journalists trained up to 50.