Sankanu Celebrates 20 years in Journalism
A PEEP INTO GAMBIA’S MEDIA BUILDING
BY HAKIM JALLOW
We have seen the birth, rebirth of various online media outlets pioneered by foreign-based Gambians in the name of transparency, justice, freedom, change, with the ultimate purpose of serving the interests of the Gambian populace from around the world. This admittedly is a great achievement and tremendously needed considering the challenges in operating an independent media outlet within The Gambia without irrelevant censorship, hostility and probable persecution by decision makers in the government. As a huge fan of investigative journalism I keenly measure materials of professional journalists against ethics, credibility, tolerance, independence, transparency, accountability and accuracy, as underscored within professional journalistic standards. The media is a powerful tool – with the anchor of the right people it can bring about overwhelming development and change, but in the hands of the wrong people it can cause unimaginable damage.
However, a bunch of online media outlets with self-styled artistic writers appear to be very good in digging, disclosing and showcasing the injustice, sycophancy and manoeuvring of Gambia government officials, but foreign aid, development projects and welfare statistics are usually missing in their coverage and analysis, giving me the unusual conclusive belief that these outlets are purposely designed as strategic rhetoric warfare tools against the government and her sycophants. I’m particularly dumbfounded by how individuals increasingly use these platforms, to openly avenge personal tribulations, whilst underhandedly assuming the role of self-appointed messiahs as “voice of the voiceless” Gambians. Contrary to dialogues of hope, change, improved living condition and global outreach that Gambians urgently need, the focus has instead been made a full-time job to filter the cyberspace with hatred, anguish, blasphemy and potentially damaging outlook of the once “Smiling Coast of Africa” hence it doesn’t look to me that the coast is smiling anymore.
At the moment are you already thinking that I might be a pro- Yahya Jammeh? Well, my brother, the Managing Editor of Nti Xannen, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu gave me a cautionary note “Anyone who starts making noise against current Yahya Jammeh gets a wholesale celebration as a “liberation hero” without proper scrutiny of his/her true motives. In the same vein, any sycophant who lies to President Yahya Jammeh or starts attacking government critics at home and abroad is decorated as a “true patriot”. The moderate and reasonable thinkers are squeezed out if not branded as collaborators and opportunists”.
Like seriously? Nontheless, I am a reasonable thinker and I believe that it is not necessarily upon any one person/group, within or outside The Gambia to single-handedly/collectively define who is a patriot and a hero, I believe we have the constitution and common sense for that. In the same light, our individual efforts should be the basis for our collective responsibility as people in the media to be agents of the very change we seek. If Yahya Jammeh and his government’s asymmetrical governance machinery are supposedly tearing Gambia from within, I can qualify that the increasing unethical activities of Gambian dissidents are tearing Gambia from outside.
My views of Yahya Jammeh’s government are largely critical. As a matter of fact, I don’t like his tight-gripping control of Gambia, his unrealistic development forecast, his out-dated savvy swayed leadership style, and am utterly perplexed by his inability to learn from history and experience.
However, if we engage a more objective analysis of current situation in Gambia, we will realise that the president and the entire government structure is infested with unscrupulously incompetent/self-seeking sycophants disguised as loyalists. Thus, the government steering wheels being sycophantically greased with lies, propaganda, personal attacks, backstabbing and incurable greed by people in all sectors of the government entrusted with the administration of the country, is what is damaging Gambia and killing our dreams slowly.
Though Yahya Jammeh’s uninformed decision making irrationality is inexcusable and very embarrassing for a man of his capacity. Nonetheless, I believe a bunch of these aggressive online media outlets anchored by extremists acting “whistle-blower” are playing an equal role in plunging Gambia into further suffering, precariousness and global isolation. Even if not for the sake of ethical professional journalism, relevant non-personal issues of Gambia should be assessed objectively. At least we owe these to our brothers and sisters back home who are bravely sacrificing daily to make our country a better place to live in.
MUHAMMED LAMIN JUWARA ON JOURNALISM
Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information. Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence.
Journalistic mediums can vary diversely, from print publishing to electronic broadcasting, and from newspaper to television channels, as well as to the web, and to digital technology.In modern society, the news media is the chief purveyor of information and opinion about public affairs. Journalism, however, is not always confined to the news media or to news itself, as journalistic communication may find its way into broader forms of expression, including literature and cinema. In some nations, the news media is still controlled by government intervention, and is not fully an independent body.In a democratic society, however, access to free information plays a central role in creating a system of checks and balance, and in distributing power equally between governments, businesses, individuals, and other social entities.
Access to verifiable information gathered by independent media sources, which adhere to journalistic standards, can also be of service to ordinary citizens, by empowering them with the tools they need in order to participate in the political process.The role and status of journalism, along with that of the mass media, has undergone profound changes over the last two decades with the advent of digital technology and publication of news on the Internet. This has created a shift in the consumption of print media channels, as people increasingly consume news through e-readers, smartphones, and other electronic devices, challenging news organizations to fully monetize their digital wing, as well as improvise on the context in which they publish news in print.
Notably, in the American media landscape, newsrooms have reduced their staff and coverage as traditional media channels, such as television, grapple with declining audiences. For instance, between 2007 and 2012, CNN edited its story packages into nearly half of their original time length.This compactness in coverage has been linked to broad audience attrition, as a large majority of respondents in recent studies show changing preferences in news consumption.
The digital era has also ushered in a new kind of journalism in which ordinary citizens play a greater role in the process of newsmaking, with the rise of citizen journalism being possible through the Internet. Using video camera equipped smartphones, active citizens are now enabled to record footage of news events and upload them onto channels like YouTube, which is often discovered and used by mainstream news media outlets. Meanwhile, easy access to news from a variety of online sources, like blogs and other social media, has resulted in readers being able to pick from a wider choice of official and unofficial sources, instead of only from traditional media organizations.
There are several different forms of journalism, all with diverse audiences. In modern society, "prestige" journalism is said to serve the role of a "fourth estate", acting as a watchdog on the workings of the government. Other forms of journalism feature in different formats and cater to different audiences.:
Some forms include:·
History: History of journalismJohann Carolus's Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, published in 1605 in Strassburg, is often recognized as the first newspaper. The first successful English daily, the Daily Courant, was published from 1702 to 1735.
The reform of the Diário Carioca newspaper in the 1950s is usually referred to as the birth of modern journalism in Brazil. Freedom of the pressIn the 1920s, as modern journalism was just taking form, [buzzword] writer Walter Lippmann and American philosopher John Dewey debated over the role of journalism in a democracy.
Their differing philosophies still characterize a debate about the role of journalism in society and the nation-state. Lippmann understood that journalism's role at the time was to act as a mediator or translator between the public and policy making elites. The journalist became the middleman.
When elites spoke, journalists listened and recorded the information, distilled it, and passed it on to the public for their consumption. His reasoning behind this was that the public was not in a position to deconstruct the growing and complex flurry of information present in modern society, and so an intermediary was needed to filter news for the masses. Lippmann put it this way:
The public is not smart enough to understand complicated, political issues. Template: Quote needs a citation
Furthermore, the public was too consumed with their daily lives to care about complex public policy. Therefore the public needed someone to interpret the decisions or concerns of the elite to make the information plain and simple. Lippmann believed that the public would affect the decision-making of the elite with their vote. In the meantime, the elite (i.e. politicians, policy makers, bureaucrats, scientists, etc.) would keep the business of power running. In Lippmann's world, the journalist's role was to inform the public of what the elites were doing. It was also to act as a watchdog over the elites, as the public had the final say with their votes.
Effectively that kept the public at the bottom of the power chain, catching the flow of information that is handed down from experts and elites.Lippmann's elitism has had consequences that he came to deplore. An apostle of historicism and scientism, Lippmann did not merely hold that democratic government was a problematic exercise, but regarded all political communities, of whatever stripe, as needing guidance from a transcendent partisanship for accurate information and dispassionate judgment.
In "Liberty and the News" (1919) and "Public Opinion" (1921) Lippmann expressed the hope that liberty could be redefined to take account of the scientific and historical perspective and that public opinion could be managed by a system of intelligence in and out of government. Thus the liberty of the journalist was to be dedicated to gathering verifiable facts while commentators like himself would place the news in the broader perspective. Lippmann deplored the influence of powerful newspaper publishers and preferred the judgments of the "patient and fearless men of science."
In so doing, he did not merely denigrate the opinion of the majority but also of those who had influence or power as well. In a republican form of government, the representatives are chosen by the people and share with them adherence to the fundamental principles and political institutions of the polity. Lippmann's quarrel was with those very principles and institutions, for they are the product of the pre-scientific and pre-historical viewpoint and what for him was a groundless natural rights political philosophy.But Lippmann turned against what he called the "collectivism" of the Progressive movement he encouraged with its de-emphasis on the foundations of American politics and government and ultimately wrote a work, "The Public Philosophy" (1955), which came very close to a return to the principles of the American founders.
John Dewey, on the other hand, believed the public was not only capable of understanding the issues created or responded to by the elite, it was in the public forum that decisions should be made after discussion and debate. When issues were thoroughly vetted, then the best ideas would bubble to the surface. Dewey believed journalists should do more than simply pass on information. He believed they should weigh the consequences of the policies being enacted. Over time, his idea has been implemented in various degrees, and is more commonly known as "community journalism".
This concept of community journalism is at the centre of new developments in journalism. In this new paradigm, journalists are able to engage citizens and the experts and elites in the proposition and generation of content. While there is an assumption of equality, Dewey still celebrated expertise. Dewey believed the shared knowledge of many to be far superior to a single individual's knowledge. Experts and scholars are welcome in Dewey's framework, but there is not the hierarchical structure present in Lippmann's understanding of journalism and society. According to Dewey, conversation, debate, and dialogue lie at the heart of a democracy.While Lippmann's journalistic philosophy might be more acceptable to government leaders, Dewey's approach is a better description of how many journalists see their role in society, and, in turn, how much of society expects journalists to function. Americans, for example, may criticize some of the excesses committed by journalists, but they tend to expect journalists to serve as watchdogs on government, businesses and actors, enabling people to make informed decisions on the issues of the time.
Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel propose several guidelines for journalists in their book The Elements of Journalism. Because journalism's first loyalty is to the citizenry, journalists are obliged to tell the truth and must serve as an independent monitor of powerful individuals and institutions within society. The essence of journalism is to provide citizens with reliable information through the discipline of verification.
Professional and ethical standards:
Journalism ethics and standards. While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Some journalistic Codes of Ethics, notably the European ones,[ also include a concern with discriminatory references in news based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disabilities The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved in 1993 Resolution 1003 on the Ethics of Journalism which recommends journalists to respect the presumption of innocence, in particular in cases that are still sub judice
Here in the UK, all newspapers are bound by the Code of Practice of the Press Complaints Commission. This includes points like respecting people's privacy and ensuring accuracy. However, the Media Standards Trust has criticised the PCC, claiming it needs to be radically changed to secure public trust of newspapers.This is in stark contrast to the media climate prior to the 20th century, where the media market was dominated by smaller newspapers and pamphleteers who usually had an overt and often radical agenda, with no presumption of balance or objectivity.
Failing to uphold standards:
Such a code of conduct can, in the real world, be difficult to uphold consistently. Reporting and editing do not occur in a vacuum but always reflect the political context in which journalists, no less than other citizens, operate. Journalists who believe they are being fair or objective may give biased accounts—by reporting selectively, trusting too much to anecdote, or giving a partial explanation of actions. Even in routine reporting, bias can creep into a story through a reporter's choice of facts to summarize, or through failure to check enough sources, hear and report dissenting voices, or seek fresh perspectives.
A 2011 study of journalism in online video found that although most news videos adhere to traditional production practices (e.g. editing and audio quality), they tended to use more relaxed standards for content (e.g., use of sources, fairness). Videos using these more relaxed standards received more views.A news organization's budget inevitably reflects decision-making about what news to cover, for what audience, and in what depth. Those decisions may reflect conscious or unconscious bias.
When budgets are cut, editors may sacrifice reporters in distant news bureaus, reduce the number of staff assigned to low-income areas, or wipe entire communities from the publication's zone of interest.Publishers, owners and other corporate executives, especially advertising sales executives, can try to use their powers over journalists to influence how news is reported and published. Journalists usually rely on top management to create and maintain a "firewall" between the news and other departments in a news organization to prevent undue influence on the news department.
One journalism magazine, Columbia Journal Review, has made it a practice to reveal examples of executives who try to influence news coverage, of executives who do not abuse their powers over journalists, and of journalists who resist such pressures.Because of the need to please many different and sometimes powerful audiences, journalists often make a blanket claim to objectivity, even neutrality, which conveniently coincides with the requirements of the market. Although some analysts point to the inherent difficulty of maintaining objectivity, and others practically deny that it is possible, still others point to the requirements of a free press in a democratic society governed by public opinion and a republican government under a limited constitution; leaving out key information too often happens. According to this latter view, direct or implicit criticism of the government, political parties, corporations, unions, schools and colleges and even churches is both inevitable and desirable, and cannot be done well without clarity regarding fundamental political principles. Hence, objectivity consists both in truthful, accurate reporting and well-reasoned and thoughtful commentary, based upon a firm commitment to a free society's principles of equality, liberty and government by consent.
Freedom of the press and Media law Governments have widely varying policies and practices towards journalists, which control what they can research and write, and what press organizations can publish. Some governments guarantee the freedom of the press; while other nations severely restrict what journalists can research or publish.Journalists in many nations have some privileges that members of the general public do not, including better access to public events, crime scenes and press conferences, and to extended interviews with public officials, celebrities and others in the public eye.Journalists who elect to cover conflicts, whether wars between nations or insurgencies within nations, often give up any expectation of protection by government, if not giving up their rights to protection by government. Journalists who are captured or detained during a conflict are expected to be treated as civilians and to be released to their national government. Many governments around the world target journalists for intimidation, harassment, and violence because of the nature of their work.
Right to protect confidentiality of sourcesProtection of sourcesJournalists' interaction with sources sometimes involves confidentiality, an extension of freedom of the press giving journalists a legal protection to keep the identity of a confidential informant private even when demanded by police or prosecutors; withholding sources can land journalists in contempt of court, or in jail.In the United States, there is no right to protect sources in a federal court.
However, federal courts will refuse to force journalists to reveal sources, unless the information the court seeks is highly relevant to the case and there's no other way to get it. State courts provide varying degrees of such protection. Journalists who refuse to testify even when ordered to can be found in contempt of court and fined or jailed.
BBC World TV's Komla Dumor dies
Mike Wooldridge pays tribute to Komla Dumor's ''infectious sense of humour.''
BBC TV presenter Komla Dumor has die suddenly at his home in London at the age of 41, it has been announced.
Ghana-born Dumor was a presenter for BBC World News and its Focus on Africa programme.
One of Ghana's best-known journalists, he joined the BBC as a radio broadcaster in 2007 after a decade of journalism in Ghana.
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said on Twitter that his country had lost one of its finest ambassadors.
BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks called Dumor a leading light of African journalism who would be deeply missed.
“One of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting” New African magazine November 2013 He was "committed to telling the story of Africa as it really is," Mr Horrocks said in a statement.
"Africa's energy and enthusiasm seemed to shine through every story Komla told".
"Komla's many friends and colleagues across Africa and the world will be as devastated as we are by this shocking news."
The BBC understands he had suffered a heart attack.
Komla Dumor featured in New African magazine's November 2013 list of 100 most influential Africans. It said he had "established himself as one of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting", who had "considerable influence on how the continent is covered".
James Harding, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, spoke of Komla Dumor's "singular role in transforming the coverage of Africa". "He brought a depth of understanding, a great deal of courage, a joyous charm and boundless charisma to his work," Mr Harding said.
Komla Dumor was born on 3 October 1972 in Accra, Ghana.
He graduated with a BA in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University.
He won the Ghana Journalist of the Year award in 2003 and joined the BBC four years later.
From then until 2009 he hosted Network Africa for BBC World Service radio, before joining The World Today programme.
In 2009 Komla Dumor became the first host of Africa Business Report on BBC World News. He was a regular presenter of Focus on Africa and had fronted the programme the day before he died.
He travelled across Africa, meeting the continent's top entrepreneurs and reporting on the latest business trends around the continent.
"I first met him in Ghana in 2007... I noticed even then how young Ghanaian journalists looked up to him ”
Lyse Doucet BBC chief international correspondent He interviewed a number of high-profile guests including Bill Gates and Kofi Annan.
Last month, he covered the funeral of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, whom he described as "one of the greatest figures of modern history".
He anchored live coverage of major events including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the funeral of Kim Jong-il, the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Norway shootings and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
In his review of 2013, published last month, Dumor said the passing of Mandela was "one of the moments that will stay with me".
"Covering the funeral for me will always be a special moment. I will look back on it with a sense of sadness. But also with gratitude. I feel lucky to have been a witness to that part of the Mandela story."
'Never flinched' Meeting Komla Dumor for the first time in Ghana in 2007, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet said she had noticed how young Ghanaian journalists looked up to him.
He never flinched from asking tough questions, but also loved to share a laugh, she says.
She adds that Komla Dumor had many loves including football, his faith, his family: "He always said 'I just love talking with people'."
Here is a selection of your comments.
Justice Lee Adoboe, Accra, Ghana: Komla was the trail blazer of modern radio journalism in Ghana. He was the icon, most of us local journalists looked up to, for inspiration. May he rest in peace.
Samuel Nyambu, Nairobi, Kenya: As an ardent listener of the BBC, Dumor's voice had become a signature for all news in Africa and my encounter with him on TV matched the energy and enthusiasm that came across while on radio. I will definitely miss him and I condole with his family, his BBC fans and the BBC family. May his soul rest in peace.
Jimbo, Pattaya, Thailand: I loved this enthusiastic and dedicated man. My heart goes out to his family and friends in this tragic time. Hard to believe I will not see his smiling face and down to earth assessments of his home roots, Africa, again. A tragedy and one which I trust BBC will honour and respect to the best of their ability. Amongst all of the BBC's many great and famous human assets, Komla Dumor's name should today be irrevocably established.
Emmanuel, New York City, USA: I first met Komla while we were both students at the University of Ghana around 2000-2001. He was working at JOY FM while still studying at the time. He was affable, friendly and had a good sense of humour. I have also been in the studio with him once as the second highest winner of a radio contest, where he quizzed us for the grand prize a couple of years later. We have spoken on the phone a couple of times and chatted on Facebook once or twice and when he was about to start BBC Focus on Africa TV he asked me to kindly publicise the programme banner with his photo on my profile, and I did. The last time we met, we were both in Addis Ababa in October 2012 at the Second Africa Trade Forum organised by the UNECA. He was there to moderate some of the sessions and I was covering for Ghana Business News. He made a mark on radio journalism in Ghana, and was a great source of inspiration for many Ghanaian youth, especially, those who wanted to get into radio. May his soul rest in peace.
Vanessa Bobai, Ottawa, Canada: Komla was a great man and very passionate about his job. He brought out the best in everything he did. Komla rest in peace you will be greatly missed.
Rickie Davies, Ghana: It is a sad day today, we have lost a talented journalist. I am still in shock. A true representation of Africa, strong, a true gentleman, a go getter. You will be missed Komla.
Beverley Zimba, New York, USA: Komla was like a brother that I never met. That smiling happy face will surely be missed. What a loss! Komla my brother rest in peace.
Charles Okot, Kampala, Uganda: I am really shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the death of Komla Dumor. I watched Komla on Friday evening full of life and humour. Komla always makes me smile in front of the TV. This is a terrible loss for Africa, BBC and the entire world. May his soul rest in eternity!
Jack Wolstenholme, Kranevo, Bulgaria: I am in deep shock, hearing of the early death of Komla Dumor. He added a different aspect on the world's developing stories, somehow making many, pleasant and more understandable, even with sensitive subjects. He will be really be missed by the viewing audience.
Anderson Chinorumba, Gaborone, Botswana: I remember his coverage at the World Cup 2010. The time he took off his shirt to reveal the Ghananian football team jersey he was putting on. He was a light indeed to many particularly African journalists. He will be greatly missed for his tireless efforts in journalism.
Maximus, London: As a fellow Ghanaian I'm saddened to hear the death of Komla Dumor. As a child growing up in Ghana I always listened to his shows on the local radio and when I moved to London I was honoured to have met him in person whilst at work at the Apple Store in White City.
Denise Sangster, San Francisco, California: Mr. Dumor brought to the world the hope, vision, plight, and challenges of Africa in an understandable manner with his unique perspectives, interviews and coverage of stories that no other network covered. I am sorry to learn of his passing. My thanks to his family and BBC for sharing him with the world. My sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues and fans.