Saturday, May 22, 2010

YJAG breaks provincial boundaries

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Young Journalists Association of The Gambia has recently gone nationwide after completing a hectic but thrilling tour of the country where it held series of meeting with Community Radio stations and some Senior Secondary Schools in the provinces.

Started on Friday 7th May, the three days tour that was undertaken by 20 members of YJAG, was meant to familiarize the young journalists with some parts of the country so as to better execute their oversight duties effectively and to disseminate factual information to the public as a good journalist is he who knows his country well.

The trip is part of the association’s Action Plan for 2010, and inline with its aims and objectives of fostering unity and mutual understanding among young journalists, and to address issue of common concern among the young media practitioners in the country.

Among the places visited by the president of YJAG, Assan Sallah and his entourage includes the Fort Bullen in Barra, Armitage Senior Secondary and the claimed underground slave house both in Janjabureh, Radio Gambia in Basse, Unique FM in Basse, Paradise FM in Basse, and Brikamaba Community Radio Station.

From one stopping point to another, the president emphasized that one of the most important thing about the tour is to expand membership of the association and its activities by inviting the young reporters in the various Radio Stations and Senior Schools in the country to join YJAG and become active members so as to stand the chance of benefiting from a lot of incentives that are in the offing.

While meeting the students of Armitage Senior Secondary School in their school hall, Sallah told the students that people think that journalism is a risky profession, “I am saying NO to that, instead journalism is one of the noblest professions in the world”.

As an ex-student of the school, Assan could not waste any time to explain the nitty-gritty of journalism profession to the students of his Alma Mata. He told the students who is a journalist, the characteristics and reasons for being a journalist.

He said: “Journalist is a person who gathers information, organizing it coherently, placing it in context and writing it clearly as news reports for newspapers and magazine as well as broadcast it over the radio or television.”

He said there are various reasons why some people want to be journalist, citing passion for the profession, passion to inform the public, desire to express your self through the media, and the desire to influence for good as an example.

While chairing the meeting, the Assistant Secretary General of the Association, Modou S. Joof gave a brief history of the association saying that YJAG was formed in 2007 by young journalists from both the print and the electronic media in The Gambia.

He said the pioneers of this association felt that the young journalists are facing a lot of challenges in their working environment and therefore thought it imperative to come together and establish this association, to address the welfare of the young journalists in the country.

For his part, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, 2nd vice president of the association and the national correspondent of The African Voice newspaper published in Ireland told the students that the association has about 150 registered members, which he said comprised both men and women, practicing and aspiring journalists from both the print and electronic media as well as Senior Secondary Schools.

Dilating on the past activities of the association, 2nd vice president Njie recalled that the first executive of the association organized three trainings for members of the association. “Since we took over in September 2009, we also organized a series of training inline with the aims and objectives of the association.”

During the 10-minute question and answer session, the students of Armitage used the presence of the talented pen-pushers to clear their doubts about the journalism profession as questions continued to flow from different corners of the hall.

Shortly after meeting with the students, the delegation proceeded to pay a visit to the principal of the school Mr. David Haffaner at his residence few metres away from the school campus.

Thereafter, the young journalists called on the Governor of Central River Region, Mr. Ganji Touray at his residence also few metres from residence of the principal of Armitage. Governor Touray, in a happy mood commended members of the association for paying visit in the provences and advised them to keep the momentum.
Honestly, said Governor Touray, "am very impressed with the initiative of the association, seening young media professional speaking one voice".
After a few minutes discussion between the president of YJAG and Governor Touray, Governor Touray donated cash amount of D2500 (two thousand five hundred dalasi) to the association.

The last place the entourage visited for the second day of the trip was the claimed underground slave house in Janjanbureh.

The third and the final day of the trip, was after crossing the ferry that is move by pulling an iron robe, the entourage went to Basse. At the Radio Gambia in Basse, the Studio Manager Mr. Nuha Badgie commends YJAG for the initiative, citing that local trainings are very crucial in their works as media practitioners.

However, he suggested that the association should look forward to, in collaboration with international organisations to be providing international trainings for its members. “I think that will give your members the exposure and the much needed capacity for the young reporters,” he said.

Nonetheless, he stressed that if such initiative is accorded to the association, the membership should make best use of it and refrains from dodging when abroad, as the act will deter others from benefiting from such cause.

He also revealed that his management is working towards upgrading the Station, noting that they’ve already secured a D10 million worth digital transmitter as part of the process of changing from analogue to digital.

After meeting with the GRTS Basse Studio Manager, the young journalists continued to Unique FM and then to Paradise FM community radio station in Basse. At Unique FM, after meeting with the staffs of the station who welcome the initiative and urged the young journalists to work harder, the presence of the entourage was immediately felt in the community as the Studio Manager granted some air time to the journalists which was based on the discussions on the activities of the association in a form of a live phone in programme.

The last stopping point of the journalists is the Brikamaba Community radio station, while the way back to the Kombos.

The tour was made possible thanks to Elton Company who provides the fuel for the vehicle throughout the tour.

As part of the Action plan for 2010, YJAG paid a courtesy called to various media houses in the country, and convened training on media law to equip its members with the laws governing the profession, which were all successfully accomplished thanks to the efforts of the executive members. Next on the agenda of the association is launching of a newsletter in not distance future.

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