Media chiefs on GPU
Thursday, March 20, 2008
This story is from yesterday's The Point
So much has been said about the suitability of the incumbent president of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Madi Ceesay to seek re-election. Some believe that he should go because his ownership of Media Agenda makes him unsuitable for the GPU top job. Others allude to all sorts of allegations.
Two of The Point reporters - Abba S. Gibba and Baboucarr Senghore sought out the views of the top men in the media.
Sam Sarr, Editor-in-Chief of Foroyaa
"The most important thing is for the members to focus and to understand the issues that are facing the GPU and base their decisions on that. There is the issue of training. A lot of people are working in the media, who have no formal training as journalists and that matter has to be resolved. There is also the issue of freedom of expression. That is an issue that needs to be addressed. You cannot talk of professionalism where there is no freedom of expression.
So the individual who can address these issues and unite the entire media, both those who are working in the state owned media and the private media is the best person for the best.
"The issue of performance is something that needs to be judged by the members themselves and then commit on that issue. Let us leave the members to go with a free and open mind, examine what is presented to them and then make up their minds as to who should be their next leader."
Asked as to whether he would be contesting for the GPU presidency, Mr Sarr maintained that it is not his ambition to be a president of GPU.
Pap Saine, Managing Director of The Point
"This is an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes. Some positions in the executive were not filled following the departure of the occupants who fled the country, which has made the GPU a one-man show. Now that we have the opportunity to elect an executive, we should elect an executive that will champion the interest of Gambian journalists.
"Since it seems that Gambian journalists are divided due to conflict of interest regarding Madi Ceesay heading the GPU and Media Agenda at the same time, my candid advice to Mr Ceesay is for him to honourably resign and give others a chance. However, during his tenure as GPU President, Mr Ceesay made some positive impacts by securing a printing press from the American Embassy and also a training package from Games Foundation in Denmark, among others.
"He made a mistake by forming an NGO, Media Agenda, which has a conflict of interest with the GPU. He also failed all along to call a mini-congress to fill the vacant positions.
"I am a founding member of GPU, and during our time whenever an executive member returned from a trip, he or she had to present a report to the executive council. But this is no longer the case. We have lot of issues to be addressed.
"And I wish eligible journalists to elect committed people to run the affairs of GPU, to bring unity among ourselves.
"I seize the opportunity of this interview to call on all journalists in The Gambia to register to become members of the GPU, especially those who are working with the GRTS."
Asked whether he is going to run for president, Mr Saine said he had to give chance to the younger ones.
Mr Swaebou Conateh ofNews and Report Magazine
"It is important for every journalist who is a bona-fide member to attend and participate. The outcome is crucial to the future of journalism in The Gambia.
"They should elect someone who will be able to protect their interest and also to protect the profession against any kind of damage. I am urging all journalists to participate fully and vote with their consent."
Mr Dida Halake, the Managing Director of Daily Observer
"I absolutely have no say on who should be the next president of the GPU. I am the Managing Director of the Daily Observer. I manage the Daily Observer. It is up to the journalists who are members of the GPU to decide who should be their president.
"GPU has got members and I understand that as a foreigner I am not entitled to be a member. I have no agenda for the GPU. If they want to be with the government, it's left to them. If they want to be anti-development it is their problem but if they also want to be with the Americans, it is their business.
"The GPU can make the press relevant or irrelevant to the developmental needs of this country. That is left to them to decide. I cannot advise any journalist on whom to vote for. If they want Madi Ceesay to continue, let them vote for him by all means."
Courtesy of The Point