New YJAG Executive Committee
L-R-seated: Bakai Njie, Modou S. Joof,
Mariam Saine, Lamin Jahateh
Standing: Fatou Jallow, Omar Wally,
Amadou Wuyeh Manga & Sulayman Ceesay
By Bekai Njie / YJAG member
The new executive members of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG), last Tuesday began courtesy calls on media chiefs in the country. The aim of their visit is to solicit the support of the media chiefs in empowering young journalists in the media fraternity.
Speaking at various media houses, Modou S. Joof, the president of YJAG affirmed the aim of the courtesy call to be soliciting the support of the media chiefs to help the young journalists who serve as crucial stakeholders in media work.
This year, he said they are focusing on capacity building for the young journalists, since the motto of the association is ‘capacity building; duty to inform,’” he said.
He further dilated on the association's membership, saying that it has a current membership of 150 young people. “This is in fulfillment of one of our objectives; that is recruiting members into the media fraternity,” he added. He spoke about the need to have a training programme for press club members, saying it has been very useful because it is through which most young people join the media.
He finally challenged the media chiefs to increase the payment for journalists. Bekai Njie, the 1st vice president of YJAG, gave a brief history of the association. According to him, the association was formed in September 2007 by a group of young journalists who felt that they needed to be empowered in order to effectively execute their job.
He said that the association was formed on the basis of promoting and fostering unity and mutual understanding among young journalists and also to complement the efforts of The Gambia Press Union for a more vibrant press.
He disclosed that since then, the association has successfully implemented quite a number of activities such as the climate change conference and a nation-wide familiarisation tour, among others.
The Market Place
Receiving the YJAG executive at his office, Said Usuf, the managing director and publisher of The Market Place Magazine, expressed delight at the initiative taken by YJAG and indicated that his magazine is young but has people with a wealth of experience.
He recalled the time when he was working as a young reporter at the Daily Observer in 1992, saying that there was no such association. “In those days, with regards to the organizations, there was nothing like this.
I am pleased with what you are doing. I think this is essential because even the media houses need your association,” he stressed. The Market Place boss commended YJAG for taking the bold initiative of reaching out to the schools to encourage students to join the association and to write for various media outlets.
Usuf admitted that his news outlet has not yet been offering internal trainings but hope to consider it in the near future, saying it would be a very good experience as every media house has its own operational modalities “and we are bound to learn from each other”.
He challenged the young journalists to keep paying their monthly subscription fees with a view to enhancing more support from partner institutions. “If I want to help but there is no money in your account then I might lose hope. So find a way of mobilising your members to pay their dues,” he encouraged.
Usuf finally vowed to print the maiden edition, ie the Newsletter of the association, but reminded the young journalists that media houses in the country are financially poor, indicating that the media houses here largely depend on adverts, and adverts are very cheap here.
He said: “The printing is very small because the literacy is very small.” For his part, Joseph Akaga, editor-in-chief of The Market Place, spoke about the importance of knowledge in journalism. According to him, knowledge is power and that journalists should oblige themselves to read extensively with a view to broadening their knowledge. “When your knowledge is low, it affects your output, which affects your financial gains,” he stated.
He also highlighted the need for capacity building, noting that one must not be in the four corners of the University to become educated, but instead there are different avenues to read and learn. “The more you read, the more it empowers you. You have to read to develop yourself,” he advised. He finally outlined the biggest challenge facing Gambian journalism, as being lack of human capacity.
The Point Newspaper
The managing editor of The Point newspaper, Pap Saine, reminded the young journalists that they are all in the same boat with elders in the media work and vowed that they (elders) would stand by the young ones to face the challenges in the media work.
He emphasised the need for giving the young people opportunities to build their capacity, saying that is his priority at The Point newspaper. “All the staff are equal before us, but the priority is given to the young people,” he said. He added: “I believe in commitment and dedication and my young journalists have already demonstrated that.”
He admonished the young journalists to work hand-in-glove with The Gambia Press Union as the umbrella body of all journalists in the country. He further advised YJAG to pay a visit to the Ministry of Information and Communication to talk about the possibility of instituting a journalism faculty at University of The Gambia.
Saine paid tribute to the Gambian journalists for their commitment, saying they are doing extremely well despite the fact that they have not attended schools of journalism. He finally advised the journalists to read widely and expand their capacity, while calling for objectivity and honesty as well as respect for the authorities.
For his part, Baboucarr Senghore, the editor-in-chief of The Point newspaper, also spoke about the need for respect, commitment, dedication and honesty, saying it helps one in the future. Nfamara Jawneh, deputy editor-in-chief of The Point newspaper, called for unity, saying it is strength and that disunity in any association distracts members in achieving their aims.
He also spoke about the importance of young people in Gambian journalism, saying: “The young journalists are the main source of success in Gambian journalism.”
Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, the proprietor and managing editor of Today newspaper, stated that the media chiefs are really in support of the creation of YJAG. He also spoke about the need for training of young journalists, and called on them to be working as study group to encourage one another for academic excellence.
“If you encourage one another towards academic excellence, it would be at your own advantage,” he said. He recalled the time when he was a freelance journalist, noting he really understands what young ones face particularly the freelancers, saying that his news outlet has improved the situation significantly as they (freelancers) are paid competitively with staff reporters.
He also dilated on the importance of hard work and urged YJAG to inculcate that sense into their membership. Lamin Jahateh, the secretary general of YJAG spoke at the various media houses mentioned above, while Mariam Saine, the 2nd vice president delivered the vote of thanks.