Editorial News

Honoring Our Heroes: Observing World Press Freedom Day: The X Generation Sets the Benchmark for Gambian Journalism

Fatoumatta: We should honor the brave souls who have fought for press freedom and freedom of expression in the Gambia. These valiant individuals, at great personal risk, have tirelessly sought the truth. While it’s impossible to list every legend, their lasting impact on our society is clear. They serve as a reminder that journalism is more than a profession—it’s a mission to uncover the truth, challenge authority, and safeguard the public’s right to know. May their legacy inspire us to persist in the struggle for a free press.

The annals of Gambian journalism will be categorized into distinct epochs: the Baby Boomers (Generation X) and the Millennials (Generation Y). The stark contrast lies in the fact that the Baby Boomer period possessed qualities now significantly missing from the Millennials’ approach to journalism in the Gambia—principles of ethics and trust.

Generation X is confronting a troubling decline in the ethics and public trust of our profession. The diminishing public regard, especially in terms of fairness and balance, is worrisome. There has been a significant drop in journalistic standards with the Millennials under this new administration. It’s essential for any profession to have a benchmark of excellence, and Generation X represents that benchmark for journalism in Gambia.

Generation X journalists have emerged as monumental figures in both Gambian journalism and society. They embody integrity, public service, and vigor, serving as exemplars for aspiring reporters of my generation and those to come. Their investigative work, dedication to the truth, and unwavering quest for justice have established the norms for ethical journalism in Gambia.

Journalism’s role as the fourth estate and a sentinel against corruption and injustice imposes a unique duty on journalists to be as competent and diligent as they are moral and ethical. Yet, the digital era’s immediate access to information, sensationalist headlines, and amateur reporting have greatly hindered the presence of quality journalism in Gambia.

Despite this, journalists who demonstrate exceptional work and are deemed highly influential risk-takers continue to thrive in today’s media landscape, including the Gambia media fraternity. Here is a list of some notable names: Mr. Dixon Colley, Baa Trawally, Suwaibou Conteh, R.S Allen, Baboucarr Gaye, Deyda Hydara, Anna Sagnia, Sanna Manneh, Jonkunda Daffeh, Nana Grey Johnson, Jay Saidy, Malick Jeng, Cherno Jallow, Abdoulaye A. Njie, Momodou Musa Secka, A. A Barry, Ngage Thomas, Saptieu Jobe, Bijou Peters, Alieu Njie, Alieu Sagnia, and the editorial teams of the Daily Observer (1993-1998), The Point (1992-2005), and the Independent (1999-2006).

The baby boomers have profoundly influenced journalists and journalism for generations. As editors and reporters, they have upheld excellence as their only standard. It’s in their nature; they are predisposed to it. They impart their knowledge of journalism generously, sharing it universally, individually, and with me.

While many millennials who do not emulate the baby boomers may not be remembered as defenders of press freedom, most Gambians and global advocates of press freedom acknowledge the X-generation media leaders as “the most trusted men and women in the Gambia,” exemplifying and supporting journalism. For millennials, journalism is the world’s most influential profession—a profession grounded in verification and skepticism rather than cynicism. However, journalists today seem to have lost their understanding of their role in a society rife with impunity, social injustice, and immorality. I’ve learned that the fundamental principle of journalism is to constantly QUESTION, a practice that appears to be lacking in today’s media.

It is widely acknowledged that Gambia’s mainstream media often caters to the highest bidder, typically the government and influential politicians. As such, we should be wary of superficial gestures of integrity while underlying issues persist. It is likely that the media will soon revert to its usual state of manipulation and superficiality. Today’s media blackout on government activities is a matter of concern for all, regardless of political stance. The media’s failure to report on government misconduct reveals its role as an unofficial branch of government, meant to provide checks and balances but often serving to uphold the status quo and protect the interests of the powerful. This media landscape struggles to represent the common people’s perspectives and aspirations. However, this is not surprising, as significant movements are often not covered by mainstream channels.

Fatoumatta: This nation requires a voice that it can trust, verify, and believe in. Which journalists have embraced this responsibility? Who will adhere to the creed and other ethical codes of conduct? Now is the moment for us to advance and recapture the core of responsible journalism. We must uphold the creed and other ethical codes of conduct. Collectively, we can reinstate the trust and esteem that journalism rightly commands. It is time to step forward—immediately.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *