MEDIA AGENDA TRAINS RADIO JOURNALISTS ON VOTER EDUCATION

By Fatoumatta K. Jallow

Media Agenda on Wednesday, 24 August 2016, commenced a two day orientation workshop for 20 radio Journalists from both the print and electronic media on the development of voter education messages. According to the organizers, the objective of the workshop is to increase civic engagement, improve voter education and reduce the threat of violence in the advancement of Gambia’s election.

Speaking on the occasion, Madi Ceesay, Director of Media Agenda, said voting is done in secret as there are many circumstances where it is essential that voters be protected from intimidation and fear of subsequent political and personal consequences. He added that in such circumstances, the message that a vote is secret has to be conveyed and, to the extent that it is possible, proved.

“Each election will also have an additional set of standard messages appropriate for the particular election. In many cases, these messages will embrace a catch phrase that can be used for shorter communications such as stickers, posters and clothing,” he said. These messages need to be prepared by educators in a form that can be widely used, Ceesay said.

He expressed hope that by the end of the exercise they will come up with relevant and powerful messages that will encourage the masses to come out in their numbers on Election Day and make their decision. “It is important to know that this right comes only once every five years,” he stressed.

Mr. Cherno A. Jallow, Head of Insight Training Institution, said voting is a demonstration of people’s power or democracy in action. “By voting an electorate exercises his/her right or franchise as a stakeholder in the national agenda. By voting, the electorate formally delegates power and authority to public office holder,” he explains.

Mr. Jallow further explained that the higher the voter turnout, the more legitimate the results of the elections, and therefore the higher the mandate of the people. “Man is an opportunistic animal. He/she needs to see what you have to offer are beneficial to him/her. Otherwise his/her reaction would be non-committal or lukewarm,” he said.  According to him, reducing voter turnout would require communication skills and a good knowledge of one’s target. He added that mass communication has placed an array of powerful tools which will reach the people, using massaging as a content.