Speaker turns heat on GPU
Friday, July 04, 2008
The speaker of the National Assembly has told executive members of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), to put their house in order and discourage the media's savage attacks against personalities and authorities in The Gambia.
Hon Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay told the GPU executive that journalism calls for "neutrality" and anything outside it contradicts the tenets of the profession.
The speaker made these remarks, yesterday, during a courtesy call on her by the GPU executive, at her office at the National Assembly, Banjul.
During the meeting, she alluded to certain online newspapers, who are guilty of this despicable action. What is more shocking, she added, the GPU has maintained a constant culture of silence in the face of this sheer unprofessionalism, which has no place in journalism.
"When Suwaebou Conateh of the News and Report Magazine made President Jammeh the 'Man of the Year', which he deserves, because of his qualities, [an online newspaper] insulted him for that. Up till today, the GPU has not taken up the issue with the online newspaper.
GPU should put it to them that as long as they write negative things about The Gambia, they should equally publish the positive things. Not only the GPU, but also the private newspapers do not manifest such by responding to the online newspapers. But today, when they wrote and insulted Pap Saine of The Point, they immediately responded in their Thursday edition and when they attack the government or any other personality, no one takes it up," she told the GPU executive members.
She then maintained that the GPU should ensure that the image of The Gambia is portrayed well internationally and as it requires Gambians to defend the sovereignty of the nation.
The speaker disclosed that the National Assembly has secured funds to train journalists on National Assembly reporting and dismissed comments that reporters were harassed and intimidated during the last State Opening of the National Assembly as unfounded.
Speaker Jahumpa-Ceesay then expressed her office's readiness to work closely with the press and called on media institutions that have not yet accredited their reporters to cover the Assembly proceedings to do so.
She used the opportunity to condemn the latest attack by the Forayaa newspaper in its editorial. She alleged that "the persons behind the paper were rejected by the people and are now hiding behind the paper to insult the NAMs".
She then warned that no journalist will be allowed to divide the Assembly, as there is a cordial relationship between the APRC and the opposition NAMs, some of whom were present at the meeting. She then urged them to respect the codes of the profession and restore sanity in the interest of national development.
Momodou Sanneh, the minority leader and member for Kiang West, described the visit as timely. On the issue of Chief Manneh, a missing Daily Observer journalist, the minority leader informed the GPU that since the matter was before the court, the issue cannot be discussed at the National Assembly. "It is now left to government to deal with it since the Ecowas Court is done with the case," he said.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the president of the GPU, commended Speaker Jahumpa-Ceesay for granting them the audience. Ms Sosseh expressed concern over accessibility to documentation for journalists to ensure accurate coverage of the Assembly.
The GPU president also briefed the speaker on the progress made in the case of Chief Manneh at the Ecowas Court. She also spoke of the case of the late Deyda Hydara, the co-founder and managing editor of The Point newspaper.
Suwaebou Conateh, the proprietor of the Gambia News & Report magazine and Sam Sarr of the Forayaa newspaper, expressed similar sentiments.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe