QUESTION OF THE DAY
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE PRESS IN THE GAMBIA?
The state of the press in the Gambia is a matter of concern.
The Daily News is still banned without any form of court order.
The Standard Newspaper returned to the newsstand but has suddenly vanished and the explanation is that the paper is engaged in a form of reorganisation.
The only three papers that are coming out daily on a regular basis are The Point, Foroyaa and Daily Observer.
Three papers are not sufficient for a country which is in an election year and which requires nationwide coverage of divergent views.
The government needs to look at the challenges faced by the Gambian independent media houses and do what other governments both in the sub-region and elsewhere are doing to promote national awareness. Many governments in the world see the media as a service regardless of whether they are governmental or non-governmental institutions. Hence, some governments do ensure tax exemptions as incentives to enable media houses to purchase equipment, train staff and remunerate them accordingly in order to promote professionalism and ensure timely publication of information of quality and relevance.
Some of them do even go further to repeal all laws which inhibit or restrict freedom of expression including freedom of the media and even give subventions to media houses to reward them for national service.
It is strange that the Gambia Government has not adopted such initiatives.
Foroyaa will be monitoring the political campaign to find out whether any presidential candidate will include support of the media and the enactment of laws to safeguard their freedoms as an election platform. If not, the electorate should demand for each presidential candidate to state their position on the subject.