by Alagi Yoro Jallow
When the history of Gambian journalism is chronicled, it will be divided into separate eras: Baby Boomers (X Generation) and Millennials (Y Generation). The great division here is that the era of the Baby Boomers had what is lacking today in a huge proportion from the Millennial’s form, style and journalistic strategies of journalism in the Gambia: ethics and trust.
The X generation has difficulty fathoming how the profession of journalism has declined in ethics and public trust, and therefore I’m bound to say that public esteem, particularly fair and balance, has evaporated. But the decline in the standard of journalism by the Millennials in this new government has been sharp and precipitous. In any profession, as with a currency, it’s good to have a gold standard, and the X generation is simply the gold standard for Gambian journalism.
The X generation has proven they are towering figures not just in Gambian journalism but in Gambian life. They are the personification of integrity, public service, and energy, and they are models for all budding reporters, not just of my generation but of the generations that follow.
The basis of journalism as the fourth estate and a watchdog for corruption and injustice brings an unequivocal responsibility for journalists to be equally skilled and hard-working as they are virtuous and ethical. However, it could be argued that the digital world we live in today, with its instantaneous access to information, click-bait culture and citizen journalism, has seriously impeded the prevalence of quality journalists and journalism in the Gambia.
Despite this, journalists who showcase outstanding work and are considered as highly influential risk-takers in today’s media still exist and existed in the Gambia media fraternity. Here is a list of few names noteworthy names : Mr. Dixon Colley,Baa Trawally,Suwaibou Conateh,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 JobeBijou Peters,Alieu Njie,Alieu Sagnia, and the Editorial team of the (Daily Observer from 1993-1998),Editorial team of The Point ( from 1992-2005) and editorial team of the Independent( from 1999- 2006) should know of right now (if not already).
By their hands, by their hearts, by their minds, the baby boomers have infected journalists and journalism for generations. As editors and reporters, excellence was their only standard. They can’t help it. They are genetical inclined that way. They share their learnings about how to be a journalist. They share it universally. They share it individually. They share it with me.
While many of the millennials who fail to follow the path of the baby boomers will never be remembered as champions of press freedom. Most Gambians and friends of press freedom worldwide recognized the X generation media chiefs as the “most trusted men and women in Gambia” and paragons and supporters of journalism.
For the millennials, journalism is the world’s most powerful profession—a profession of verification and skepticism instead of cynicism. Today, journalists have lost their sense of their role in a society, usually full of impunity, social injustice, and immorality. I have learned that the greatest principle of a journalist is to QUESTION! QUESTION! QUESTION! which is missing in the contemporary media.
Now all are aware that Gambia’s mainstream media is an expensive harlot who offers her services to the highest bidder—usually the government and the powerful politicians. Therefore, we should not fall for this Pharisee-like move of pretending to clean the outside of the cup when the inside still carries death and decay. By tomorrow morning, the media will be back to its usual, manipulative, dumb, and shallow self.
Regardless of our political affiliations, today’s media blackout on the activities of the government ought to concern everyone. By refusing to cover any aspect of malfeasance of the government, Gambia’s media fraternity has demonstrated that it is indeed the “fourth estate”—the fourth arm of government. It exists only to maintain the status quo and guard the interests of the ruling elites. Such a media is unable and unwilling to articulate the views and aspirations of the masses of the people. But then again, this is not news as the revolution has never been televised.
This country needs a voice it can believe, verify, and trust.
Who are the journalists who accepted that charge?
Who will follow the creed and other ethical codes of conduct?
Please step forward—now.